The demand and use of Uber in Costa Rica is on the increase. And so is the pressure by the current administration to put Uber to rest, by attacking the driver app company at its drivers.
Deeming the service illegal, the administration of Luis Guillermo Solis, being pressured by the taxi drivers, has increased controls by way of the Policia de Transito (traffic police) and as we learned yesterday, possibly through the State bank, Banco Nacional de Costa Rica (BNCR), through its decision to close the accounts of Uber drivers.
The bank denies the Central Government applying pressure, rather, the decision is based on law and the bank’s concern of the inflow of “illegal funds” into its accounts, similar to any other deposit coming from an illegal activity.
OK, so we know that customers who have an account at the Banco Nacional may have their accounts closed if the bank detects that the deposits are coming from being an Uber driver.
But what about Banco Nacional customers who pay for an Uber service with cards linked to their Banco Nacional account?
The bank is clear, users of Uber who pay for the service because in this case the funds in the Banco Nacional are not at risk, as customers have the right to spend their money for any service they choose.
The bank also stated that “it is not after UBER drivers as a specific objective to force them out” and it is not closing accounts en masse, rather, only if it detects deposits coming from Uber. In that case, customers will be notified and will have 10 days to bring their account in line with policies of the bank, after which it will move to close the account and issue a cheque to the account holder for the funds in the account.
The bank says that, for now, the only way to detect that money comes from Uber is by detailing each transaction.
Although the Banco Nacional is the only financial institution to take this action so far, it assures that all banks run the same risk of allowing illegal funds to be deposited into their accounts.