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Banks Deploy Mobile ATMs and Generators to Get Cash to Sandy-Affected Customers

Date : 10/31/2012 @ 2:58PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Citigroup (C)
Quote : 54.13  0.0 (0.00%) @ 4:00AM

Banks Deploy Mobile ATMs and Generators to Get Cash to Sandy-Affected Customers

JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)
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   By Matthias Rieker 
 

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) are deploying mobile automated teller machines equipped with cellular signals and generators to help customers impacted by Hurricane Sandy to get cash.

TD Bank, the U.S. retail bank of Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD, TD.T), is ready to send four self-powered banking trailers, essentially mobile branches, to areas where branches aren't back in service. New Jersey's barrier islands may be one area where the banking trailers will be sent to if the bank gets permission, a spokeswoman said.

The banks, including Citigroup Inc. (C), also put their own generators in branches that lost power as they reopen them Wednesday across the metropolitan New York area. Branches elsewhere in Hurricane Sandy's path started to reopen Tuesday.

"Today is a really important day," Ryan McInerney, the Chief Executive of Chase consumer banking, said in an interview. "It's an important pay day, it's a Social Security payment day, end of month is really important for our customers." The bank has prepared since last Thursday to get branches and ATMs prepared to open soon after the storm and keep them from running out of cash, he said.

J.P. Morgan Chase is deploying mobile ATMs usually used at events like the Black Eyed Peas concert in New York's Central Park last year and the United States Open Tennis Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

The nation's largest bank by assets, and the larges by far in the New York metropolitan area by branches and deposits, had already assembled power generators in central locations before the storm hit so they can be put in storm struck branches where customer traffic and cash needs demanded quick return to service, Mr. McInerney said.

Some of Chase's coastal branches sustained extensive damage, Mr. McInerney said. But on Wednesday morning, almost 600 branches, or about 60% of branches in the New York metropolitan area, were back in service. About 150 branches run on generators.

"We've been through these types of things many times before, so we have a good sense where we need more cash," Mr. McInerney said. All branches were inspected again before the storm hit and again after the storm passed. Branches were open an extra two hours Saturday to allow customers to bank before the storm.

Other banks, including TD Bank, has also put more cash than usual in ATMs before the storm hit. TD Bank is the third largest bank by deposits in New Jersey and the seventh largest in the metropolitan New York area, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

In addition to its nine barrier island, N.J., branches, TD Bank branches in Hoboken, N.J., and Hudson County, N.J., and Howard Beach, N.Y., are still out.

Bank of America, the second largest retail bank in metropolitan New York, said the majority of branches in the Northeast are open. "We are also working to open up some banking centers in Manhattan today," a spokesman said. Mobile ATMs would also be deployed in Manhattan, he said.

A Citi spokeswoman said 70% of ATMs and almost 60% of its almost 300 branches in the New York metropolitan area are open as of midday Wednesday. Mid-Atlantic branches and Massachusetts branches are open, except for two in Pennsylvania.

HSBC Bank USA, the U.S. retail banking business of HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC, HSBA.LN) of London, opened all branches in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Virginia Wednesday, and select branches in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey. In total, the bank opened 101 of 189 impacted branches, a spokesman said.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said 106 of its 156 branches in New York and Connecticut are open. Some stores in Manhattan, Long Island, and coastal Connecticut remain closed Wednesday. In total, 1,030 branches in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia opened Wednesday.

Write to Matthias Rieker at matthias.rieker@dowjones.com

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