San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

2 State Banks Combine Checking, Savings Services

Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) signed an agreement this week that will allow customers to cash checks and make deposits – in dollars and colones – at any of the banks’ combined 400 sites.

The policy change will take effect immediately, according to bank officials.

William Hayden, Banco Nacional’s general manager, said the move would reduce operational costs, improve client service and allow state banks to go toe-to-toe with multinational, private competitors.

“It’s a way of competing with them and trying to at least keep us in the market or … keep winning ground in the market,” Hayden said.

BCR’s general manager Mario Rivera said the two banks are satisfied with a pilot program testing the combined savings and checking services. All told, 3,000 checks and ¢2 billion ($4 million) in transactions were processed.

Under the new system, all deposits will hit clients’ accounts in real time. Before, customers had to wait until 2 p.m. the following business day to access their funds.

Internet transactions are not included in the merger.

This is the second step in a three-year-old process to meld Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago (Bancrédito) with the other two state banks. The trio has already placed automatic teller machines on the same network.

Two more steps remain before the consolidation is complete, Rivera said. He would not give specifics, but said the banks hope to join credit card and loan payment services in the future.


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