Strange Things Are Happening in Mexico’s Banking System

Rumors and denials proliferate, as millions of pesos disappear.

On Sunday it was the turn of Mexico’s second biggest lender, Citibanamex, to be the target of customers’ ire after suffering a system failure that made it impossible for customers to withdraw money from ATMs, pay with their credit or debit cards, or access their online accounts. The incident is estimated to have affected roughly 4.3 million people. On Sunday night the bank, which is majority owned by Citigroup, announced that the problems had been resolved.

But by Monday morning, a whole new problem had arisen. Customers of Mexico’s biggest bank, BBVA Bancomer, owned by Spanish banking group BBVA, had begun reporting problems accessing the bank’s mobile platform. As happened with TSB and Citibanamex, the problems became apparent first on social media. The bank responded to customer complaints on twitter and Facebook by urging them to restart their devices, switch to the 24 hour clock and reinstall the app. It’s not clear whether that is working.

These latest incidents have raised serious questions about the security of Mexico’s banking system — something we warned about at the beginning of April.

At the end of April a number of financial institutions reported suffering a cyber attack via Bank of Mexico’s SPEI interbank transfer system, an iteration of the SWIFT global payment system . Lorena Martínez, the director of Bank of Mexico’s payment systems, denied rumours that SPEI had been breached. “That has not happened,” she said, adding that the problem was detected in the internet application used by some institutions to connect to the central payment system…

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