Technology

Fintech customers report problems with emergency aid operations in Brazil

Slowness in the Caixa Econômica Federal system, responsible for distributing the emergency aid, caused problems for Nubank and PicPay

Brazilian Emergency Aid app by Caixa. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr/Agencia Brasil
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  • When Caixa launched the payment schedule for the second installment of emergency aid, the institution imposed a grace period so that people could transfer money from the digital account opened for this purpose to another bank or payments account;
  • Experts say this was necessary because Caixa’s system is not meeting the demand. As a way to get around this, some fintechs, such as Nubank, PicPay, and Mercado Pago, started to announce that, through them, it is possible to “anticipate” the emergency aid money.

Slowness in the system of the state-owned bank Caixa Econômica Federal, responsible for distributing the emergency aid of BRL 600 to BRL 1,200 from the Brazilian federal government, caused problems for customers of fintechs like Nubank and PicPay, according to Tecmundo and O Estado de S.Paulo.

When Caixa launched the payment schedule for the second installment of emergency aid, the institution imposed a grace period so that people could transfer money from the digital account opened for this purpose to another bank or payments account.

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Experts say this was necessary because Caixa’s system is not meeting the demand. In some days, the application made to assist the beneficiaries of the emergency aid, called Caixa Tem, receives 500,000 users per hour, which generates an “online queue” that takes hours and hours.

As a way to get around this, some fintechs, such as Nubank, PicPay, and Mercado Pago, started to announce that, through them, it is possible to “anticipate” the emergency aid money, without having to wait for the deadline imposed by Caixa for the withdrawal or transfer of the amount.

This is done through transactions that are actually payment transactions: boleto bancário (the Brazilian popular bank payment slip) or debit card purchases. As the application of the state-owned bank allows the user to use the money for purchases and payments, it also allows this type of operation that ends up serving as an alternative of transferring the benefit to fintech accounts.

This week, with the release of new installments of the aid, however, the slowness of Caixa’s system caused a series of errors. In the case of PicPay, several payment transactions via boleto bancário and also the transfer of money from the PicPay account to other banks were not completed or even appeared as “canceled” a while later.

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To Tecmundo, the fintech informed that the problem occurred over Tuesday, and recommended that customers try to do the operation again. In some cases, however, the money appears as debited from the Caixa account, and, at the same time, did not appear at the fintech account balance. In this case, PicPay asks customers to request a refund from Caixa.

In the case of Nubank, customers used social media to claim that an amount of BRL 500 had been deducted from their accounts. According to Estadão, on Tuesday night, customers received an apology and the amounts were returned to the accounts.

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On Wednesday morning, the startup made a statement about the problem: “Between April 15 and June 10, 2020, part of Nubank customers who paid the payment slips through Caixa Econômica Federal received a higher amount in their digital account. The error occurred due to a failure in Caixa’s own system “, says the note sent to the newspaper.

The bank then asked Nubank to make chargebacks on accounts that were supposed to have received extra amounts, but the refunds started to affect customers who allegedly did not receive extra money. According to Estadão, Caixa still does not know how to explain the origin of the problem.