Banking system suffers computer glitch

For several hours yesterday, Banco Central de Costa Rica suffered computer glitches according to some customers.

A manager calling Banco Nacional de Costa Rica to ask why transfers made via SINPE would not go through said she was told the system was “colapsado.” That is the Spanish word for “collapsed.”

SINPE, or Sistema Interbancario de Negociación y Pagos Electrónicos is the main payment system for the central bank.  It translates into English as the “interbank electronic payment system.”

The system handles electronic money transfers, check clearing, direct debts and direct credits as well as provides account information for all bank-related institutions.  The system connects 99 percent of Costa Rica’s financial institutions handling hundreds of millions of U.S. dollar transactions daily

The Central Bank of Costa Rica moved the banking application to Microsoft’s .NET Technologies in September of 2002 with the help of ArtinSoft Corp.

The Microsoft system consists of Web services that connect information, people, systems and devices through software.

Web services are revolutionizing how computer software applications talk to other applications — or how computers talk to other computers using a data format that is equivalent to a worldwide computer language.

This was a tough pill for some people trying to pay bills online. Most people have grown accustomed to the ease of use of the SINPE system and rarely write checks.

Calls to providers of services telling them of the problem fell on mostly deaf ears.

One recommendation made by an attorney expecting payment was, “go to the bank and pay in cash to my account.”

This does not always work.

Many banks are so interconnected with the Central Bank that when it goes down, their local system also fails.

Some payments to public services were also affected because they too rely on the system.

As of 5:30 PM, the Banco Central System was seemingly back to normal.

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