Banking, telecom seek to resume services in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN — The problems with the telecommunications and power systems caused by the passage of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico have resulted in many residents facing a lack of cash, with many ATMs offline and no ability to conduct electronic payments in establishments.
On Monday, Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario said the local banking industry has partially resumed its operations, with several branches already open throughout the island and more ATMs becoming online.
Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín said on Sunday that bank representatives, including Banco Popular and Oriental Bank, held a meeting with government officials to address some of the problems faced, such as lack of cash in ATMs and restoring electronic payments.
“They will be supplying [cash to] the ATMs,” assured Rivera Marín, who added that, as telecommunications are reestablished, more ATMs will be operational. For his part, Rosario added on Monday that Evertec—the main transaction-processing company in Puerto Rico—has also restored its systems.
At the moment, Banco Popular reported in its Facebook account that 16 branches opened on Monday until 2 p.m. Meanwhile, Oriental Bank had four branches open on Monday until 2 p.m., while FirstBank had eight until 3 p.m.
“Difficulties in electricity and communications services have impacted ATM operations. However, we have managed to keep a limited number of ATMs in operation and we are working hard to normalize the network, giving priority to ATMs that are in our branches,” Popular informed in a statement.
As for the telecommunications systems, the Public Affairs secretary explained that 27% of cellphone service on the island has been restored, although mostly in the San Juan metro area.
He further said Claro has reestablished service in some parts of the north and east of the island, while T-Mobile was able to resume service in the metro area. After suffering a setback on Sunday, AT&T was able to restore its service in the Greater San Juan area, although it remains limited and intermittent.