Sen. Rivera Filomeno Calls for Probe on Payment Network Outage

Sen. Luis Daniel Rivera Filomeno, president of the Senate Consumer Affairs Committee, has filed a resolution to investigate Saturday’s collapse of the automatic-teller machine (ATM) and points of sale network managed by Evertec, which prevented costumers from carrying out ATM or debit card transactions for various hours at numerous establishments.

“Our purpose is to investigate what happened and what is begin done to prevent this from happening again. In [Puerto Rico], transactions should not come to a halt that easily. There are innumerable cases posted in the social networks of problems created by this situation [the outage], and we want to investigate it properly. That is why we filed Senate Resolution 1321,” Rivera Filomeno said.

He explained that the purpose is “to know, specifically, the information related to the processing and protection of clients’ data, the rates businesses are charged and the processing of payments with credit cards.”

Rivera Filomeno added that customers in the mainland U.S. who use cards issued by local banks had problems carrying out transactions as well, and that local business people, including the president of the United Retailers Association, have expressed their concern about the situation.

Resolution 1321 will follow its due regulatory process in the Senate, and a public hearing will soon be convened so the committee can gather data and render a full report, with findings and recommendations, to the Senate.




Evertec’s Red ATH Payments System Back Online After 2-hour Outage

SAN JUAN — Island merchants were slowly getting access back online to Evertec’s Red ATH electronic payments network around 7 p.m. after suffering a massive service interruption around 5 p.m.

Evertec is Puerto Rico’s largest electronic payments processor, practically serving all financial institutions and merchants on the island.

The two-hour disruption left merchants without being able to process electronic payments from debit or credit cards, as well as customers without access to automated teller machines, or ATMs, to withdraw cash to complete their transactions. Some online transactions were affected as well, with local cards being declined when attempting to rent a movie on Apple’s iTunes video service, for example.

Many merchants and customers resorted to complete their sales transactions using cash and/or checks.

The origin of the system’s interruption remains unknown. However, a heavier number of transactions than usual were reported as consumers ran to convenience stores to buy Powerball tickets for today’s drawing. The jackpot is of a record $900 million.

“At Evertec, we are confronting a service interruption, which is affecting ATMs and Point of Sale (POS) terminals at businesses. We are working hard to solve the problem as soon as possible,” Alan Cohen, Evertec executive vice president of marketing & communications said in a prepared statement.

The service interruption was detected between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., affecting the customers of all the financial institutions on the island, Cohen added.

Some merchants were reporting that the system was back online at around 7 p.m., but Cohen reiterated Evertec technicians were still working making sure the system remained stable and consistent.

The system, Cohen added, needed to be restarted, requiring it to be turned off and back on, just like a computer when it crashes, he explained.

By José L. Carmona

 




Puerto Rico Stock Index lost 22.36% in 2015

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Stock Index (PRSI) lost 504.05 points, or 22.36% of its value in 2015, according to the latest data released by the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico (GDB).

The PRSI stood at 2,253.70 on Jan. 09, 2015. It ended at 1,749.65 at the close of trading on Dec. 31, 2015.

The PRSI is a capitalization-weighted (or market value weighted) index created by UBS and the GDB. It is composed of five companies based or with their main place of business in Puerto Rico.

The companies included in the index are traded on national stock markets (i.e., NYSE, AMEX) and in the over-the-counter market (i.e., NASDAQ).

The PRSI components are: OFG Bancorp, Popular Inc., First BanCorp, Triple-S Management Corp. and Evertec Inc. During 2015, the PRSI lost one of its components, Doral Financial Corp., as its banking subsidiary Doral Bank was shut down by the Puerto Rico Financial Institutions Commissioner’s Office, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as its receiver.

During the last week of 2015, the PRSI lost 44.18, or 2.46%, to close at 1,749.65.

Topping the list of nongainers was OFG Bancorp, which lost 54 cents, or 6.87%, to close at $7.32. It was followed by First BanCorp, which erased 22 cents, or 6.34%, to close at $3.25. Shares of Popular fell 52 cents, or 1.80%, to close at $28.34. Triple-S Management Corp. edged down 33 cents, or 1.36%, to close at $23.91. Shares of Evertec Inc. skidded 20 cents, or 1.18%, to close at $16.74.

By José L. Carmona