Online Banking Outage at Wells Fargo Triggers Concern About Delays in $1,400 Stimulus Checks

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Top U.S. banks like Wells Fargo have minimal exposure to energy companies. (Image: Esmeralda Jade via wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0)

Financial Company Wells Fargo has apologized to customers for a recent online outage that sparked concerns over possible delays to the latest $1,400 stimulus payments.

Wells Fargo explained that the outage issues were caused by “high volumes” of transactions.

The outage took place on Wednesday morning, March 17, day one of the bank’s third round direct payment distribution to Americans under the recently passed $1.9 trillion relief package. After several customers tweeted that they were facing online and mobile banking applications issues, the bank took quick action. By early afternoon Wells Fargo notified customers that their technical teams had resolved the problem and they should be able to access online banking facilities. 

Wells Fargo makes stimulus checks available

“We know the importance of the stimulus funds to our customers, and Wells Fargo is making the stimulus funds available immediately when they are made available to us… The U.S. Treasury has indicated that payments will be distributed in multiple phases and could take several weeks to distribute, so not everyone will receive payments at the same time,” Wells Fargo had said in a statement. The company also notified customers to determine their check status via the IRS’ Get My Payment tool if they do not see the stimulus checks in their accounts. 

IRS had informed financial institutions to expect around 90 million direct deposits totaling $242.2 billion on March 17. The federal government began distributing the first wave of these pandemic aid payments last week. But some banks, like Wells Fargo, could not make money available to their customers until this week. As such, the outage and subsequent concerns over direct payments attracted strong criticism from the bank’s customers.

Direct payments are estimated to benefit almost 85 percent of Americans. Individuals making $75,000 per year will receive $1,400 in payment. The aid money will decline for people with higher incomes, reaching zero for those making $80,000 per year. For couples, full benefits will be available to those who earn up to $150,000 annually, with couples making $160,000 being the cut off for receiving aid.

 Wells Fargo successfully resolved power outage issues affecting stimulus check distribution on March 17. CEO Charlie Scharf is confident the economy will bounce back this year. Image: pixabay/CC0.1.0

Pandemic and economy

As this third stimulus package gets doled out, many experts worry about the American economy’s state. However, Wells Fargo appears to be confident about the future, with Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf saying that the country will bounce back strongly in the second half of 2020.

“Consumer demand is extremely high — over the last couple of weeks we, like others, have seen material increases in consumer spending, and that’s before the stimulus checks have arrived… We’re really bullish in terms of what the third and fourth quarters could look like,” he told Bloomberg

Scharf expects the GDP to grow by approximately 6 percent to 6.5 percent “for sure.” He thinks that this growth rate will be good enough, provided it benefits all sections of the society rather than just a few industries. 

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