The wave of lifting of sanitary restrictions that the Government ordered in the last 48 hours will not cover an activity that continues to function in almost the same way as at the beginning of the pandemic: customer service at bank branches. As explained by the Central Bank, The banks will continue to attend their subsidiaries with shifts, sanitary protocols and limited operations, under the same parameters that they have been doing since last year. “No change is planned,” they told Infobae at the BCRA.
In that way, despite the fact that the government ordered that “100% capacity be enabled in economic, industrial, commercial, service, religious, cultural, sports, recreational and social activities in closed places, maintaining prevention, mask, distance and ventilation measures “, the banks will continue to function the same as when the coronavirus was in full expansion and the percentage of the vaccinated population was much lower.
“With the branches like this, we are all comfortable: the banks, the union and the Central Bank”, admit in a private bank of national scope to explain an at least curious situation: The current health situation allows a nightclub to be 50% full for vaccinated people or for 25,000 people to have celebrated the goals of Lionel Messi on the River field, but to go to a bank branch to do a procedure it is necessary to ask for an appointment.
“The digital service channels are working well, the union is satisfied that the employees are at home and the Central Bank does not want crowds in the banks after the episodes of last year; Thus, We all do what the saying goes: If it is not broke, do not fix it”, They were sincere in the financial institution.
It happens that with the same speed that the pandemic advanced, so did digital means of payment (virtual wallets, cards, QR payments, transfers and others) and virtual attention through homebanking and mobile banking. Even public banks rode the wave strong with their electronic wallets, DNI account of the Bank province and BNA +, of the National Bank. Between both entities they represent almost half of the financial system and with the only presence of the financial system in some localities. They are also the key banks for retirement payments and social plans.
This development of bank digitization allowed branch limitations to be less noticeable. Added to this was the expansion of fintech companies, which began to cover a significant portion of the demand for financial services, with Payment Market and Ualá to the head.
Nevertheless, In many cases there are customer complaints about the delay in granting shifts, which can reach two weeks or a month to carry out operations that are mandatory in person, such as accessing safe deposit boxes, or the deposit or withdrawal of dollars in cash. The withdrawal of cards or the attention of retirees and many other clients who, despite the advances, cannot operate by electronic means or need personal advice is also made mandatory.
In another first-line bank, they assure that they do not expect the BCRA to introduce any changes but that, anticipating greater discontent, they have already made decisions in the face of the new scenario of less rigorous sanitation. “From next week we are going to expand the presence of the staff to 100% in the branches. That will allow us to grant more number of shifts, since there will be more service posts enabled. The frequency will continue to be every 15 minutes ”, they pointed out.
Until now, most bank branches divided their staff into groups and made them go to work in batches, so that the appearance of a Covid case does not force to isolate all the branch staff. With the increase in vaccination, banks will increase the number of personnel and thus attend without so much delay when granting shifts.
The health protocols established by the BCRA since last year, in turn, delimit a series of operations. As established, you can request a shift to go to the branch and withdraw cash in dollars, but you cannot do the same to withdraw cash in pesos. Those who want to do so must go to an ATM, which is an obvious obstacle to withdrawing deposits. Regarding the permanence of the shift system despite the pandemic beginning to subside, a bank executive explained: “I doubt that the Government wants there to be more people withdrawing deposits in the branches”.
The role of the Banking Association, led by Sergio palazzo, of close proximity to the national government. The union is in no hurry to get its members to go back to work as before the pandemic, as is the case in many unions. A data graph shows the place that the union occupied in this matter: Argentina was the only country in Latin America that did not consider banks an “essential activity” and, therefore, did not force its workers to go to work. at least with limited schemes. The branches were completely closed for two weeks in March 2020 and when they reopened, as expected, it was with crowds and disorder of those who wanted to collect pensions and social plans with the economy paralyzed.