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Columbia Business Monthly

Federal Government Rolling Out Economic Impact Payments

Apr 17, 2020 11:25AM ● By David Dykes

By Eric Wall 

Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus checks, began depositing into consumers’ accounts on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.  As payments were widely discussed and media outlets around the country announced the program’s beginning, consumers began looking for ways to determine if their payment had arrived.  The volume of internet traffic caused many banks’ online banking systems to become intermittently unavailable. 

While the problem appeared to be a complete loss of access, some online banking users were able to login. Compounding consumer frustration was that the loss of accessibility affected banks’ mobile applications as well.  

Fiserv is a Fintech company providing financial technology solutions to clients in more than 100 countries. 

In many cases, financial institutions rely on a Fintech to develop and support the technology that brings services to their customers.  A statement issued by the company late Wednesday included, “Some of our online and mobile banking solutions were experiencing intermittent accessibility or delayed response times due to exceptionally high systemwide volume. We apologize for any inconvenience to our clients and their customers.” 

Fiserv went on to recommended possible resolutions if customers continued to experience issues. Customers should try to clear their cache and cookies from their devices or access the browser in “InPrivate Browsing” mode.  

With most banks operating lobbies by appointment only and experiencing longer than usual wait times in their drive-throughs, consumers were left wondering how they could determine if their stimulus money was deposited.  

As a result, call volume increased and created a back log of customers waiting on hold. 

Bank of Travelers Rest reported a significant increase in call volume for Wednesday. 

“We understand our customers’ concerns as they are becoming increasingly more reliant on the Internet to access their accounts and perform transactions.  During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have a team devoted to this and other issues so that we can keep our bank ready to serve our customers,” said Tom Britt, president of Bank of Travelers Rest.

Banks, in general, have teams dedicated to addressing today’s ever-changing environment. This is not the first startling event created by COVID-19. The Coronavirus pandemic has presented unexpected challenges while creating innovative opportunities for banks to consider how they provide service to customers. The “old” normal could soon become “old hat,” paving the way for the “new” normal to provide breakthroughs in service technology and customer adoption.

But for now, consumers who may have trouble accessing their bank’s online banking or mobile app should consider alternative means of checking balances.  

Most ATMs, for example, give a balance inquiry option. To determine your eligibility for receiving an Economic Impact Payment or to check the status of your stimulus deposit, visit IRS.gov. 

There, find the link “Get Coronavirus Tax Relief” and follow the steps to “check your payment status.” 

The IRS will continue to deposit stimulus funds each Wednesday until the program has completed.

 Eric Wall is vice president and director of marketing for Bank of Travelers Rest.

 
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