BRUSSELS, 17 October 2017 – On 7 September 2017, an earthquake struck Mexico. It had an intensity of 8.1 in the Richter scale and the states affected were Oaxaca and Chiapas. Mexico's federal government allocated financial resources from the Natural Disasters Fund (FONDEN) to rebuild these states. More specifically, the National Savings and Financial Services Bank (BANSEFI), Development and Social Bank of Mexico – a WSBI member – was charged with delivering FONDEN resources to low-income families whose homes were damaged by the quake.
Local savings banks are often the first to intervene in such situations. WSBI members are regional banks deeply rooted in their community and active on the ground; BANSEFI being a perfect example of it.
Federal, State and Local Synergies
The first immediate step was taken by the Secretariat for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (SEDATU), as it evaluated damaged homes and classified them in two categories: partial or total damage. From the latter evaluation, it was established that 121,701 homes were damaged: 63,335 in Oaxaca and 58,366 in Chiapas.
Bansefi coordinated the delivery operation with federal, state and local authorities. The federal government provided the list of beneficiaries, as well as the protection of Federal Police during the delivery of the financial resources by Bansefi brigades. The states´ authorities, on the other hand, were a fundamental liaison with local authorities, which in turn provided local information to guarantee a smooth transit of BANSEFI's brigades. Finally, it was determined for the financial help to be delivered by members from SEDATU, BANSEFI and the Federal Police, one each, in order to enhance transparency and mitigate security risks.
Financial help given
The financial help is given based on the category of the damaged home.
Partial Damage.- FONDEN debit card with $15,000 pesos (approx. 857 UDS). which must be used to purchase construction material.
Total Damage.- Two debit cards are given: i) FONDEN debit card with $30,000 pesos (approx.4,000 UDS), which may be withdrawn in cash and ii) FONDEN VIVIENDA debit card with $90,000 pesos (approx. 12,000 UDS), which must be used to purchase construction material.
Prior to the delivery of the financial help, BANSEFI strengthened the financial ecosystem´s infrastructure to lower beneficiaries´ transactional costs. The bank hired a consulting firm to supply points of sales (POS) terminals to those businesses that sell construction material and who wanted to be able to offer beneficiaries the convenience of charging the purchase of their construction material on their BANSEFI debit card.
Furthermore, BANSEFI installed additional ATMs in municipalities´ buildings where there were the most homes damaged. In addition, it established a zero commission on ATMs usage of its debit card. This is particularly important in the communities where the ecosystem infrastructure is almost nonexistent.
Many families are sleeping in tents, whether because their homes are seriously damaged or they simply don´t feel safe sleeping inside them, as it is still trembling in cities like Tehuantepec, Tuxtepec and Salinas Cruz in Oaxaca. Therefore, to organize its logistics, BANSEFI rented an auditorium in the city of Ixtepec, where its personnel work during the day and sleep in tents at night.
To deliver the financial help, BANSEFI automatically gives beneficiaries a deposit account that is opened at the beneficiaries´ home when visited by BANSEFI's brigade, the representative of SEDATU and the Federal Police. There is no obligation for beneficiaries to keep the deposit account once it uses up the financial help. For auditing purposes, an application for a tablet was developed to allow BANSEFI brigades to take a picture of beneficiaries and their damaged homes, as well as register their georeference location.
The beneficiaries are identified from the Beneficiaries´ List created by SEDATU, which must have the beneficiaries´ name, address and number which SEDATU wrote on the homes´ front wall. The financial help started to be delivered on 2 October.
In addition to the financial help given, BANSEFI has also installed an information stand. The stand offers financial education, as most of those receiving the financial help have never had a deposit account nor a debit card. The information offered covers the benefits, responsibilities and how to optimize the usage of the financial help given.
A second earthquake struck Mexico City on the 19th of the same month. It had the intensity of 7.1 in the Richter scale, which also affected additional states. Financial help will shortly be given in these last states affected. These efforts allow BANSEFI to respond as the Social Bank of Mexico, as it fosters social profitability and client centricity.