Early-Bird Salvadorans Take Advantage of More Flexible Banking Hours to Make Transfers

The central bank’s Transfer365 facility allows account holders to make transfers at all hours, leading to a trend of early-morning transactions in the Central American country

Las transacciones mediante Transfer365 acumularon US$9.300 millones desde que el servicio se implmentó en junio de 2021 a la fecha
August 02, 2022 | 08:54 AM

San Salvador — More than half a million Salvadorans have made payments or bank transfers in the early hours of the morning through the Transfer365 service launched by the central bank (BCR), which lifts schedule restrictions on such movements.

“Five hundred and forty-five thousand operations, transfers have been made in the early morning. Who makes them? Who knows, but in the early morning they wake up and say ‘I have to pay something’, and they make the payment,” said the BCR’s governor Douglas Rodríguez.

The new service has given more flexibility to users of the financial sector, since they previously had to send inter-bank transfers before 5:00 pm, or wait until the next business day.

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Since the BCR implemented the system in June 2021-, Transfer365 has seen 5.3 million transactions totaling $9.3 billion, according to Rodríguez.

Saving on commission

In addition, the platform has saved Salvadorans some $11.8 million in commissions and $5.4 million in late payment surcharges, fines and other charges, according to the BCR’s calculations.

Estimates are based on the fact that users have made 1.3 million transactions after 5 pm, which would previously have incurred charges.

“In fact, 24% of the total number of Transfer 365 transactions have been made on non-business days, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, totaling 1.2 million transactions,” Rodriguez said.

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To use Transfer365, it is necessary to be a client of one of the 18 partner banks and financial institutions, which provide access through their own electronic channels, and the platform will expand its scope with two new services: Transfer 365 Mobile, and Transfer 365 Business, the BCR announced late last month.

Transfer 365 Mobile will allow for electronic transfers using the recipient’s telephone number associated to a bank account, while the Business version will speed up high-value transactions of above $120,000.

“You will no longer have to wait for the check to be signed, the remittance to be made, as a clearing day as happened before,” Rodríguez said.

Remittances

El Salvador’s Minister of Trade and Investment Miguel Kattan says that the BCR is promoting a dynamic payment ecosystem for the national economy, predicting that it could also strengthen the sending of family remittances from abroad.

“Now the challenge is for all banks to open accounts abroad for Salvadorans so they are able to transfer money to their relatives in El Salvador through Transfer365,″ Kattan said.

According to the Salvadoran Banking Association (Abansa), in 2021 transactions by digital means rose to double digits in the system.

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Debit and credit card transactions totaled 75.52 million, a 35.3% increase on the previous year, while electronic banking transactions totaled 8.4 million (up 47.4%).

“Savings accounts grew by 10% and now include more than four million people, which implies significant coverage of the economically active population,” Abansa’s president Raúl Cardenal said during the presentation of the 2021 banking results.

The banking system has not reported significant exposure to bitcoin, however. In the area of transfers from abroad, since the Bitcoin Law came into effect last September until June of this year, family remittances with cryptocurrency wallets totaled $120.5 million).

In the second quarter of 2022, remittances with cryptocurrencies totaled $34.2 million, a 17% increase over the first quarter, but which were still below their highs in the last quarter of 2021, according to Bloomberg Línea estimates, based on BCR data.