QCOSTARICA – Customers of the Banco Nacional (BN), Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) and BAC San José can, through Monedero Virtual (Virtual Wallet) now make SINPE transfers from the smartphones.
The Banco de Central de Costa Rica (BCCR) – Central Bank – on Thursday introduced the SINPE Móvil (Mobile SINPE) and the Cuentas de Expediente Simplificado program, a simplified bank account opening process (to start in second half of the year), with the objective of making formal banking available to an estimated 35% of the population (1.4 million people) over the age of 15 that does not currently use banks.
The SINPE Movil, an extension of the Sistema Nacional de Pagos Electrónicos (SINPE) – National Electronic Payments System, allows anyone with an account in colones in a commercial bank, who have an active cellular phone line, to make payments through the Banca SMS, Banca Web Móvil, Banca App, Banca en Línea and Red de Cajeros Automáticos channels.
For now there is no commission on all transactions up to ¢100.000, for higher amounts, the corresponding fees will apply.
According to the Central Bank, in Costa Rica about 90% of the transactions are made in cash. The objective of the new tool is to give consumers an alternative to cash through a secure electronic payment mechanism.
The benefit of this platform for banks is that they can reduce the circulation of cash in the domestic market, allowing them to cut operating costs and increase customer safety.
“The use of cash, currency and coins costs the country US$500 million dollars in transfers, custody and other costs,” said Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solis, through his account on Twitter.
Getting ready to join the Monedero Virtual system are Coppe Ande, Coopenae and the Lafise bank.
More, if not all, banks are expected to join before the end of the year, though there is no deadline or requirements for institutions to join, according to Carlos Melegatti, director of Payment Systems at the BCCR.
How Does It Work?
At the Banco Nacional (BN), for customers with accounts in colones, they are required to have a Kolbi (ICE) cellular line and a cellular phone with SMS (text message) capacity.
- Transactions are processed only from a registered telephone number, and although there are no fees for transactions, there is the cost of ¢5 colones to send a text message (this charged by the cellular operator).
- By default, mobile transactions are restricted to ¢20.000 daily, but can be increased by changing the limits at any ATM or the banks website.
- Transactions cannot be cancelled or reversed.
- International transactions (transfers made outside of Costa Rica) are permitted if and when the customer subscribes to roaming.
Terms and conditions may vary with other financial institutions.