Ecuador’s Central Bank orders all private banks and financial cooperatives to join the government’s electronic money system within a year.
The Central Bank wants banks and cooperatives to be “macroagents,” along with large companies, in the new electronic money system. The new requirement says that, “All financial institutions, both public and private, should incorporate as Macro System Agents into the electronic money system.”
The central bank said the intention of the new policy is to provide access to the system to all customers of the country’s financial institutions.
Although the Central Banks has predicted that more than half a million Ecuadorians will have an electronic money account by the end of 2015, only 10,000 have joined in the program’s first five months of operation. Some businesses, including taxi companies and Riobamba, Machala, and Guayaquil have joined the system.
The electronic money system works through cell phones, allowing account holders to pay for transactions through an account debit.
The National Association of Private Banks says it is studying the new requirement. Association president Cesar Robalino says the private banks have never been opposed to joining the electronic money system so long as it used only as “a means of payment for transactions.”
He added that his concern is that system will expand to be used for public government purposes, such as financing the federal budget. “The government has assured us that this won’t happen and we have to take them at their word,” he said
Robalino also said he prefers that banks be allowed to join the system on a voluntary basis, not by federal order.