Writing a check to pay for something in Germany is not often done these days.
Instead, Germans make greater use of electronic money transfers to pay their bills. An average German bank branch might handle 20 checks a day, compared with about 500 a day at an American bank, according to Christian Sachau, a University of Hamburg student who just finished a six-week internship working at Lawrence banks.
"It's faster, much more efficient and much more easily managed," Sachau said.
The American banking system, however, is much more competitive and better at advertising and marketing, Sachau said. And more Americans are moving more toward electronic banking, he said.
Sachau, 25, applied for an internship through his hometown of Eutin's Sister City exchange program with Lawrence. He worked out the arrangements with Frank Baron, professor of German and director of the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies at Kansas University.
The subprime mortgage crisis in the United States has had a minimal impact on the German financial system, Sachau said. German banks that have been affected are ones that bought bad home loans from this country.
"The problem was imported from America, but we don't have the problems that you have," he said.
The average bank in Germany is larger and has many more employees than most U.S. banks, Sachau said. The bank he works for in Hamburg has about 1,500 employees, and there are not as many tellers as there are here. Employees work in other areas, he said.
Sachau's bank is helping pay for his college education, and in return, he works for them during school breaks. Sachau also signed a contract committing him to three years of employment at the bank after he graduates.
"I'm interested in corporate finance," Sachau said. "I don't know exactly what I want to do, but I do want to stay in the banking business."
Sachau arrived in Lawrence in early August and returns to Germany today.