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Covid-19: What measures are banks undertaking?

The CEOs of Ireland’s five retail banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, Permanent tsb and Ulster Bank), along with their representative body, Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), held a meeting on Wednesday (March 18th) with the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD.

They set out a joint-plan to support the thousands of businesses and employees across Ireland who will be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plan

The five retail banks are introducing measures to help businesses and personal customers whose personal and business circumstances have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

The banks are also working collaboratively to ensure that continuity of service plans are in place, that critical functions can continue, and that staff remain available to continue to service customers at this time.

BPFI CEO, Brian Hayes, said: “These are exceptional circumstances in which people now find themselves and we believe they require exceptional measures. The banks are moving urgently to introduce measures that will best support businesses and personal customers impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. They will also require the full support of key stakeholders in order to make it happen”.

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The measures

The measures agreed during this meeting are as follows:

  1. Implement a payment break up to three months for business and personal customers affected by Covid-19, to be followed by ongoing reviews depending on the scale and extent of the situation.
  2. The banks agree there is a need for a simplified application process to make it as easy as possible for businesses and personal customers impacted by Covid-19 to receive support from their banks.
  3. The banks want to ensure that any Covid-19 application for a payment break and further reviews will not adversely impact the customer’s credit record, and the banks reporting of these facilities. Banks want to avoid this and are meeting with the Central Bank of Ireland to urgently achieve a solution in this regard.
  4. Banks will also defer court proceedings for three months.
  5. The banking system stands ready to provide working capital support.
  6. They have had initial discussions with Credit Servicing Firms and with those non-bank lenders who provide mortgages. Both are committed to working with the Government and industry to provide the flexibility that people need right now.

Speaking after the meeting Brian Hayes said: “The Irish banks are fully committed to working with the Irish Government and the Central Bank of Ireland during this extraordinary time. Priority must be given to ways in which our collective action can support individual customers, families, businesses and communities across the economy during this time. As the situation evolves, there will be a requirement to further address changing needs across the economy and the banking industry is ready to respond promptly and with agility.”

Concluding, Brian Hayes said: “We will play our part at this critical time. The banking sector will support our customers and the economy, and work to protect the safeguards built up within the banking system in Ireland over the last ten years including capital, liquidity and operational resilience. We will also work to ensure our economic sustainability beyond Covid-19.”

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