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“Bancaída:” Banking Platforms’ Outage in Colombia

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash does not require a technology infrastructure, Cash is a contingency and fall-back solution, Costs of cash versus costs of electronic payment instruments
January 23, 2023
Tags : Banks, Colombia, Digital payments, infrastructure, Technology
Several Colombian banks experienced system outages in December, generating customer malaise and evidencing the vulnerability of digital payment infrastructures.
Manuel A. Bautista-González

Ph.D. in U.S. History, Columbia University in the City of New York

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Global Correspondent Banking, 1870-2000 – Mexico and South America, University of Oxford

This post is also available in: Spanish

La “Bancaída”

On December 1, a payday in Colombia, Davivienda, Bancolombia, and Nequi’s banking platforms went down. People could not withdraw cash from ATMs, pay with their cards at supermarkets, restaurants, and gas stations, or conduct operations in bank branches and apps.

Many users took to social media to complain about their banks’ faulty services, calling the meltdown the “Bancaída” (the bank fall).

“Davivienda and Bancolombia are always trending [topics] due to their BAD products Daviplata and Nequi, respectively/Shameful!” tweeted Sonia Cett (@sony_ca21).


Founded in 1972, Davivienda has 19.8 million clients, 17.8 thousand employees, 652 branches, and 2,670 ATMs. DaviPlata, its digital bank, has 15.6 million clients.

Starting at 8 am on December 1, Davivienda experienced problems with their website and app. The bank’s ATMs were not dispensing cash (see Image 1); clients could not use debit and credit cards. Davivienda branches could not handle operations.

“Today we had failures in some of our Davivienda and DaviPlata channels. Our IT team is working to solve these issues. Our ATM network and our branches are fully functional for Davivienda clients needing cash. Clients needing to use other payment instruments can use their credit cards at retailers without problems. […] This situation did not arise from an attack or a vulnerability in the bank’s infrastructure,” said Davivienda.

Image 1. Colombia: Davivienda ATMs Shut Down, 2022

Source: @MaicolBuitrago, @Paamogar.


Founded in 1875, Bancolombia has 25 million clients, 30,000 employees, 878 branches, and 6,050 ATMs. Bancolombia’s services went down on December 1 and again on December 10. Clients could “get cash through our banking correspondents and ATMs, and use their cards,” tweeted Bancolombia.


Launched in 2015 as Bancolombia’s digital bank, Nequi has 14.6 million customers. After Bancolombia spun it off in December 2021, Nequi started providing loans to customers purchasing flight tickets (via Hopper) and receiving remittances (via Ria Money Transfer).

“We have identified a faulty module and are implementing an action plan to solve it with teams in Colombia, the United States, and Brazil. However, this is a complex process. [… Failures] are not related to scalability due to transactions’ growth or volume, or Nequi’s independence from Bancolombia,” said Nequi.

Nequi said it gave free payment cards to its worst affected customers. Nequi’s app failed again on December 7. “As soon as we solve [the situation], you will be able to use Nequi and move your money as usual. […] For now, the Nequi card works perfectly,” said Nequi in a deleted tweet.

Health Provider Experiences Cyberattack

At first, some suspected hackers were attacking the banks.

Image 2. Colsanitas: We Take Cash, 2022

Source: Carlos León.

SEMANA and Portafolio contacted the police’s cybercrime unit to inquire whether Davivienda, Bancolombia, and Nequi were suffering cyberattacks. The police stated it had no reports of hacking, indicating that the “Bancaída” was due to the banks’ systems.

The Resilience of Cash vs. the Vulnerability of Digital Infrastructures

Colombia’s “Bancaída” is another example of what happens when digital infrastructures fail due to outages (such as the Rogers’ outage in Canada last July) or cyberattacks (like the January and February attacks against Ukraine) and the importance of preserving cash as a resilient payment instrument.

This post is also available in: Spanish