QCOSTARICA – EXPAT FOCUS – The Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) on Friday, September 4, experienced a failure in one of its computer systems. The situation affected services from the morning hours until almost 2:00 pm when its electronic services were restored.
Services such as ATMs and card use were affected.
This caused complaints and reports from clients on social media.
In a statement, around 11 am Friday, the BCR had said that its technicians were in contact with its service provider to solve the problem. At 12:30 pm, through the bank’s press office, the technicians reported that the systems had already stabilized and services were being restored little by little.
Finally, around 1:45 pm a new statement from the bank explained that all online services were being provided normally again.
A customer of the BCR, an expat, also a big fan of the Q and the reporting style, shares his experience on Friday through a letter sent to the bank’s management.
Carl, not his real name, preferring us not to reveal his identity, sent copies of the letter to the bank in Spanish and English, though not expecting any response.
“You have my permission to use these statements for whatever you feel is appropriate. I would prefer to remain anonymous, but I will leave that up to your judgment. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds,” wrote Carl.
The letters are being published word for word without editing.
Letter 1 in Spanish
Septiebre 4, 2020
Juan Pablo Rojas Espiniza
Gerente de Oficina, Santa Ana
He sido cliente de Banc Costa Rica por más de 10 años y residente por más de 17 años. Fui al cajero automático poco antes del mediodía de hoy, 4 de septiembre de 2020, y descubrí que los 2 cajeros automáticos no funcionaban.
Entré a retirar algo de dinero de mi cuenta y el guardia me dijo que no podía retirar dinero y que solo podía hacer un depósito. Uno de sus empleados llamó a la puerta y el sistema bancario no funcionaba y eso afectaba a todos los bancos de Costa Rica.
Me dijeron que esperara adentro para ver si el sistema funcionaba. La sala de espera estaba llena y decidí después de 10 minutos que no esperaría más. Soy un adulto mayor con una enfermedad autoinmune y he tenido mucho cuidado de evitar las multitudes. No me sentí cómodo en el ambiente que me proporcionaste.
Mis preguntas son las siguientes:
¿Mi dinero está seguro en su banco?
¿Tiene el banco un sistema manual para continuar con el negocio en caso de que un sistema informático falle para manejar a los clientes con un método manual?
En 1999, como gerente de tecnología de un banco en Florida, se me pidió que desarrollara un sistema para mantener el negocio con normalidad debido a fallas en los sistemas informáticos por el posible problema del año 2000. ¿Costa Rica tiene un sistema para mantener la industria bancaria en caso de falla de la computadora?
¿El BCCR y la Sugef conocen este problema hoy?
Me resulta sumamente desconcertante que al público se le niegue el acceso a sus fondos durante el horario bancario normal. Dado que el departamento de salud ha perdido el control de la pandemia, ¿nos enfrentamos también a un colapso del sistema financiero?
Envío esta carta a BCCC y Sugef.
Letter 1 in English
I have been a client of Banc Costa Rica for over 10 years and a resident for over 17 years. I went to the automatic teller just before noon today, September 4, 2020, and found the 2 automatic tellers were not functioning. I went to go inside to withdraw some money from my account and was told by the guard that I could not withdraw money and could only make a deposit. One of your employees came to the door and the bank system was not working and that it affected all banks in Costa Rica.
I was told to wait inside to see if the system would become functional. The waiting room was at capacity and I decided after 10 minutes that I would not wait any longer. I am an older adult with an autoimmune disease and have been very careful to avoid crowds. I did not feel comfortable in the environment you provided.
My questions are as follows.
Is my money safe in your Bank?
Does the bank have a manual system to continue business in the event of a computer system failure to handle clients with a manual method?
In 1999 as a technology manager of a bank in Florida, I was required to develop a system to maintain business as normal due to failure of the computer systems per the potential Y2K problem. Does Costa Rica have a system to maintain the banking industry in the event of a computer failure?
Is BCCR and Sugef aware of this issue today?
I find it most disconcerting that the public is denied access to their funds during normal banking hours. As the health department has lost control of the pandemic, are we facing a collapse of the financial system as well?
I am forwarding this letter to BCCC and Sugef.
This statement is a follow up of my statement of September 4, 2020 sent to BCCR, Sugef and the manager of the Santa Ana Centro branch office. (statement attached )
This letter is also being sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
After many hours of contemplation regarding what I experienced at the Santa Ana Branch of BCR on Friday, September 4, 2020, I offer 2 issues that should be discussed by the proper authorities.
I have read the bank’s response as published in La Nacion. When I first went to the door, the guard told me that the tellers were not dispensing any cash as the system was not working. I was told that this situation affected all Banks. After reading La Nacion I realized that the employee of the bank was referring to the use of BCR issued cards and would affect use of the card at any other entity. I was told I could have a seat inside to see if the system would come back online to obtain some cash.
I found that all chairs inside were occupied by people waiting. Yes, it was socially distanced with only every other chair is being used. However it was still a large number of people inside the location waiting for an uncertain response. I waited in a chair for 10 minutes while watching only 2 tellers attending clients.
When I realized that these 2 clients had not managed to complete a transaction, I determined that my stay inside would be of an unacceptable period of time and I did not feel comfortable waiting in an air conditioned space for an undermined period of time. As an older adult with an autoimmune disease I have religiously avoided unnecessary exposure to the virus of the pandemic.
With the air inside being recirculated, clients should have been advised to stay outside in a line until they could be serviced. Yes, all clients inside were wearing a mask. I later realized that this situation by this time had been several hours. I find it completely irresponsible that people were allowed inside for an undeterminable period of time in the environment of recycled air without knowing how long it would be to accomplish their transaction.
Somebody should be sanctioned for allowing possible exposure by the protocols that BCR used to remedy a situation that had no end in sight. If this same scenario was happening at all branches of BCR calculate the number of potential citizens that were exposed to the possibility of being exposed to the virus.
My second issue is that there should be a protocol for banks to dispense cash in the event that a computer system completely shuts down a banking facility for an unexpected and undeterminable period of time.
The public should be apprised of how a protocol will function. What would the public say if the shutdown had extended into the weekend and the citizenry was not able to obtain cash on a Friday?
This is especially important given the fragile mental attitude of the public during the pandemic. Nobody plans on this type of scenario, but there should be a protocol for a possible situation of a greater magnitude in the future.