The banking culture in C.R.
Costa Rica has a very particular banking culture. A couple of weeks ago, an expat related a story to me about her relative in the U.S. who was dissatisfied with his bank there. He had to wait for service, felt that he was being ignored, so he closed his accounts and withdrew from the bank. In Costa Rica, if you expect immediate service you will be disappointed.
The financial system in C. R. is small, just $ 40.639 US Million $ (Jan. 2014), however it is very stable. You can get all kinds of financial services and first order banking, including excellent access to internet banking, however, you must arm yourself with a little patience and prepare to wait an average of fifteen minutes in line at the bank. Lines can be long and service slow, especially in the national banks.
How secure is to invest in C.R.
The vast majority of financial institutions in C.R. are regulated by the government through the Sugef (Superintendent of Financial Institutions ) which issues a monthly rating on major financial indicators for each bank. It’s a pretty demanding state agency whose guidelines are obligatory for all institutions within the financial system. There are also several financial institutions which are not regulated, due to their small size.
In terms of financial and bank auditing, some banks are turning to local audit companies. Others, particularly some of the larger banks, use international auditing firms especially highly recognized worldwide such as Deloitte, Peat Marwick and Price Waterhouse. Coopenae is audited by Peat Marwick. These three audit firms are supported by Sugef to audit local financial institutions in C.R.
The C.R. financial system
The financial system consists of 51 financial institutions regulated by Sugef (Jan. 2014). Of these, there are 4 state banks, 9 private banks, 2 mutuals, some financial companies, and several credit unions. The majority of the 51 are small credit unions. In the past, there were more private banks, however in the last two decades, some have merged, leaving us with the present 9. The largest by assets is BAC San José and the third is Banco Davivienda, both from Colombian capital. The second is Scotiabank and the fourth, my bank, Coopenae, a credit union, the largest and strongest in C.R., which is internationally audited, with an outstanding financial performance and 100 % “Tica”.
Coopenae has been in the local financial market for more than 47 years and currently is the 4th largest credit union in Latin America. Our credit default rate for loans paid late (more than 90 days) has been under 1% for the last decade, it is currently well rated by Fitch Ratings and, as of March 2014, has more than 90.000 members, including expats investors from all over the country.
How to access C.R. banking system
Keep in mind that to perform banking transactions in C.R. (opening accounts, investments, internet banking, etc.) a “cédula” or residency card is required. The residency card is a permit to reside in the country (not as a tourist) but permanently while the document is in force. If you do not have yours, I suggest you start the process to get legal residency so you can open a bank account in Costa Rica.
The foregoing information has been provided by Mr. Asdrúbal Zamora of COOPENAE. He is in charge of investments and routinely helps foreign investors in Costa Rica with earning sound profits from their investment money. He can be reached at email@example.com
Current CD Rates at COOPENAE:
A question was asked that I felt would be good to add tot his posting.
If you have a corporation could you open an account with that cedula.
As we are a credit union we cannot deal with corporations, only nonprofit corporations. Also, we don´t manage checking accounts, only savings accounts.