The World Health Organization's Monday elevation of its pandemic alert level from three to four due to rising swine flu cases has set in motion banks' contingency plans should a global outbreak occur.

Doug Johnson, vice president of risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, said institutions are now cross-training employees to ensure critical functions continue, including providing cash to customers. Banks are also coordinating with their local and state government agencies, to be apprised of school and mass transit closures.

"First and foremost, banks are ensuring that their employees and customers have the proper information on how they can best protect themselves," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc. and other banking companies with offices in Mexico were now restricting travel, according to Investment Dealers' Digest, a sister publication of the American Banker.

Zurich-based UBS circulated an internal memo that asks employees returning from an affected country to "please consider working from home for a few days."

In addition to more than 2,000 people affected in Mexico, at least 113 cases have been confirmed worldwide, including 64 in the U.S.

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