More than half, or 57 percent of Puerto Rico’s bank branches islandwide are offering services, Puerto Rico Bankers Association Executive VP Zoimé Álvarez-Rubio said.
Offering an update on the banking sector’s efforts 19 days after Hurricane María made its catastrophic landfall on Puerto Rico, she said while the results so far are “satisfactory,” the sector will not rest until returning to normalcy.
“We know that consumers need to access banking services with the regularity and ease to which they are accustomed, and banks are working hard to make it happen,” she said.
During an interview with this media outlet, Álvarez-Rubio admitted that long lines at the ATMs are a problem that must be addressed, as well as trying to bring banks along the island’s severely battered central region back online.
“However, that will all depend on the availability of technology and diesel. And that some branches were severely damaged along the mountain,” she said.
One of the banking sector’s priorities during the recovery period is educating customers about available moratoriums offers, which, depending on the product and the bank, can provide relief for up to three months to make payments on financial commitments — including personal, auto and mortgage loans.
Álvarez-Rubio stressed the importance that every client reaches out to their financial institution to learn about the options and terms they have at their disposal, according to the type of product they have with their bank.
“A moratorium is a period of time during which the obligation to make the monthly payment agreed with a bank is postponed. However, we urge customers who have the ability to make payments, to continue to do so,” she said.
Álvarez-Rubio said local banks, as well as the nonprofit group, have been in constant communication with the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to ensure the availability of cash on the island.