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Asia CommentTaipan

The importance of a few zeros

Trading a currency on screen, day in and day out, is not the same as understanding it in real life, as one forex banker just found out to his cost in Tokyo.

I overheard a story in my local the other day about this lad, who had only just arrived in Hong Kong from the UK, but who had already made his first business trip in Asia.

He travelled to Japan, together with his boss, for a few business meetings. Many readers will know what a great place Tokyo is to visit, with excellent food and drink on offer. However, the taxi charges can add up quickly.

On his first night in the city, the chap was out by himself treating a client to dinner, and, as can happen, he ended up having a little too much sake. So afterwards he took a late taxi back to his hotel and, not wanting to dent the company card even more, paid the ¥2,000 ($18) fare in cash.

Or rather, he thought it was ¥2,000. But a few minutes later, when he was checking his wallet for the room key card, he saw just a couple of ¥1,000 notes where there had previously been ¥20,000. The unfortunate chap had accidentally paid the taxi driver 10 times the fare.

Given his area of “expertise” is Japanese yen, this was quite a mishap for a first business trip. To add to his misery, the guy was forced to borrow some money from his boss for the next day’s meeting before he could get to an ATM machine. Now that’s certainly something he won’t be able to live down.

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