ICBC online banking from abroad using the USB dongle?

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    Anonymous
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    I’m soon moving back to the U.S. after a number of years in China. I want to get a Chinese bank account that I can at least somewhat manage from the U.S. At minimum, I want to be able to move money from my bank account over to Alipay and Chinese Paypal. The BOC account I’ve long used for this purpose won’t be suitable anymore, because BOC’s security requires SMS verification, and my Chinese phone number will be of no use in the U.S.

    I’ve spoken with ICBC and their system doesn’t use SMS verification. I can either use a USB dongle or a little keypad which (from what I understand) is basically a more sophisticated version of BOC’s e-token keychain thingy. The keypad is by all accounts a more convenient system, except you have to replace the whole unit when the battery dies, and that can only be done in China. If the battery dies when I’m outside of the country, I’ll be effectively frozen out until the next time I go back to China, and I have no idea how often I’ll be doing that.

    The USB system uses no battery, but it does apparently use one of those ActiveX controls that are so depressingly popular in China. For whatever reason, ICBC couldn’t tell me whether the USB system would work in the U.S.—they thought there was a possibility the ActiveX control would be unable to communicate with ICBC’s security server from outside the country, or something like that. It seems to me this would only be the case if ICBC themselves prevented it, but I’ve spoken to multiple ICBC personnel (in person and over the phone, via their national customer service line) and nobody knew whether this was the case.

    So after all that background, a simple question: has anyone successfully used ICBC’s USB security system from the U.S., or anywhere else outside of China?

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