In today’s episode of Kim vs. France, we examine some challenges of highly-secure European banking. As I’ve mentioned before, Europe is eons ahead of American credit cards and banking systems. And while I’m sure that keeping money safe from hackers and digital robbers is important, have they gone too far?
Last night, I attempted to pay my rent by wire transfer. With online access, the process seemed fairly simple. I logged in with an assigned 12-digit numerical code and 6-digit password. To even enter the wire information, the site requested a secret code from a key card the bank sent by mail. Simple enough.
After entering the account information, I needed to enter ANOTHER code they provided by phone to make the transfer. So I waited for a call or text, with no luck. As it turns out, the account is linked to my office phone. I tried to enter my cell phone instead, but a new number can’t be validated without ANOTHER code that the bank sent by mail a couple months ago. And THAT code is no longer valid.
This morning I tried the entire process again at work, and received the call with the code. An automated voice began barking numbers. Not slowly or digit-by-digit to ensure that it could be understood, but rapidly in French counting style :
What was that? Sixty-five twenty-two eighty? In France, numbers are always read in two-digit sets. There is no translation for seventy, eighty, or ninety. They substitute with basic arithmatic instead :
70 = sixty-ten 80 = four-twenties 90 = four-twenties-ten
Wait, what? Four-twenties-ten? Yes. It comes from Basque and was adopted by the Gauls and then the French. This has bothered me since they taught us to count in seventh grade French class.
It took several frustrating tries to realize that the code wasn’t 60-15-22-80-11, but 75-22-91.
Next time I’ll just pay in cash.