Another day at the office… its not easy to be a Start Up’er in Portugal

Just got back from the bank.

Sometimes working in Lisbon is like working in Denmark in the 70’ies and 80’ies.

Like so many other times I went to the bank to put in money.

This is something that should be easy compared to the Banks in Denmark where you don’t find cash at all. You can only exchange foreign currencies in a few selected banks.

When I entered the bank I was very optimistic – only 4 other ‘customers’ in front of me.

25 minutes later I handed over my 6 100 US bank notes and our Millennium Debit card to the woman behind the desk.

She panicked. A foreigner!

3 minutes later I young guy in a nice grey suit, white shirt and dark tie came and took my notes and card.


federal-reserve-note-100-USD-united-states-dollars-benjamin-franklinSorry sir – we can’t change your dollars – the suit and tie said.

I don’t understand – what’s wrong? – I have done exactly the same several times in the 6-7 months we have had our account in their bank.

You need an account – the suit and tie looked very important.

But that’s my account – or Annette’s account? – I still didn’t get it, I have used the card several times before.

You need your own account – the suit and tie was about to leave.

Are you serious? I am putting in money. I am not withdrawing them!!! – I was angry after – especially after having waited for 25 minutes.

You can block the 600 US on the account until your HQ get the notes cleared. How difficult can it be?

I am educated in a bank and have 6 years experience in especially transactions like this one. And after seeing the bank’s equipment I could see that they we’re on a pre 1980’level compared to Danish banks. So I could have done everything myself.

Your US Dollars are not the problem – we have to debit the exchange fee from the account. So we need your wife’s signature. – The stupid suit and tie looked as if he was a genius.

Then I just pay the exchange fee in cash – then you get the Dollars without withdrawing money. – I seriously thought that the problem was solved.

But it wasn’t

Not possible. The suit and tie really pissed me off.

Then I left with my Dollars and went directly to the cash machine and withdrew 150 Euro’s from our account.

Having set up a business in Nepal and lived in Kathmandu for more than 7 years I have expected things to be a little easier in Portugal. After all Portugal is part of EU and determined to get back in business after the financial crises.

But so far almost everything has been a lot easier in a medieval country like Nepal .

I know Portugal has had a a lot of problems in the past. And I understand that things take time – and I am prepared. But the situation like the one I just experienced is unnecessary bureaucracy.



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