March 12, 2020 / 10:08 PM / in 18 days

Banks remind customers they can bank online amid coronavirus outbreak

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) after more cases of coronavirus were confirmed in New York City, New York, U.S., March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) - Banks are talking up their online and mobile banking capabilities to customers as more Americans look to avoid public places amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We strongly encourage you to use Capital One’s digital tools and other resources for self-service banking and 24/7 account access,” Captial One Financial Corp wrote to customers in an email adding that representatives were always available.

Other large U.S. retail banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup have sent similar reminders to customers about their digital banking capabilities this month.

“We want to make sure our clients know they can bank, invest, and make payments from wherever they are, particularly if they’re not able to come to a branch,” a Chase spokesperson said in a statement.

Mounting fears about the quickly spreading coronavirus has prompted many Americans to work from home and avoid public spaces as local officials encourage social distancing. The pandemic has also driven many corporate meetings to virtual settings to reduce human contact.

As of Thursday, there were more than 126,000 cases of coronavirus globally and more than 4,600 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Wells Fargo & Co had to temporarily close one of its Seattle branches this week after an employee tested positive for the virus. The bank has deep cleaned the site multiple times, and advised customers to visit other branches in the area or its phone or digital banking products to manage their financial needs while the site was down, as spokesperson said

The reminders are also meant to ease the volume of calls at call centers as more people try do handle their banking needs remotely.

“Call wait times may be longer than usual,” Capital One said in the email.

Reporting by Imani Moise; Additional reporting by Anna Irrera in New York and Michelle Price in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell

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