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It was a long time ago in a place far away from home. The classical banking system was still in full charge of all financial stuff and no one was even questioning their de-facto authority. It was during these ancient days back in 2007 where I was a young and innocent student that simply did what most compliant, hard-working and smart students do: Move abroad to the United States to go for some months of paid internship in "prospering" Detroit for a big car manufacturer.

So… No problem, I went through all the statist crap processes with Visas, work permits, applying for a social security number, attending interviews at the embassy explaining to them that I am not a terrorist…. But that I am just a young and innocent student that just wants to pimp up his CV with a bloody half a year of internship in the land of the free, so that I can at some point in the future become a law-abiding taxpayer some day.

And YES, they approved my application and there I could go. And indeed, some months later I finally started the internship and worked so hard in order to get my first pay check and Harhar! One month later, it was payday and well, as a student US$600 was quite some bunch of money for me at that time.

However, in these good old times of FIAT currency, just working somewhere and getting quickly paid in Bitcoin was just far too utopian at this time. Therefore the payment process worked with a very strange piece of paper called a cheque. In Europe we didn’t have these glorified IOUs anymore, so I was a bit puzzled what to do with this thing now. Asking at the HR they explained to me: No problem, just go to some local bank of your choice and you can open an account and receive the money.

So, I did exactly as told…. I went to some random local bank to open a so-called chequing account. As usual, the lady at the desk was super friendly, probably because she understood that some stupid guy like me is showing up to give them my money.

And two hours later, after showing all kind of ID cards, social security cards, work contract and filed 100 declarations of whatever terms and agreements I did not even bother to read, I REALLY had my first foreign bank account. I can tell you how proud I was! And US$600 balance!

So, being a good German that always tries to find the best deal ... I began to ask some very simple questions like: Hey maam. How much interest do I actually get on this chequing account? The lady looked at me, wondering. Sir, this is a chequing account. There is no interest on this. But we can open a savings account blablabla. And I thought … come on. Forget it … please no more forms….

But if there is no interest, can I please just get my $US600 in cash?

And the Lady was shocked and turned from super friendly to "annoyed". "REALLY? You want it in cash? No ... that’s not possible right now!"

So I asked, "Why not? You don’t pay me interest and it is just US$600."

"Well…. You just opened the account and you should keep the money there at least for a while."

As curious young boy, I asked "Why?"

"Because it is far more secure and you can pay everywhere with this bank card." Not very convinced by this explanation I kept demanding my money. "Can I please get it? It is not so much in the end." But the lady answered: "No it is not recommended, your credit rating will go down when your balance is too low and in case you want to get a loan, that’s very bad."

I became a bit angry. "What do you think? I am a bloody foreigner that does an internship, do you really believe I want to take out a loan to buy crap I cannot afford, that I don’t need in order to impress people I don’t like or what? Please just give me my money."

The answer was short: "Well, we don’t have so much cash here, you can come back in two days." And I got really pissed: "What are you talking about, you don’t have US$600?!?!?"

And instead of answering my question the response was very cool: "What do you need the money for?" And being so much frustrated I actually started lying that I want to buy a car, because I am new here.

And see there, after another five minutes of useless discussion I finally got my precious FIAT money.

And together with the pocket money I brought from home with expensive exchange fees my total balance went up to US$1470. More money than I ever had in my hands as student. I wish would have had the possibility to use bitcoin these days … but this dream only came true four years later. But after THIS experience I now appreciate it more than ever.

By Martin Albert

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