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BPFI Statement regarding bank customers impacted by Covid-19

Banks set out joint plan to support businesses and personal customers impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wednesday 18th March 2020 - 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), this afternoon met with the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, and set out a joint-plan to support the thousands of businesses and employees across Ireland impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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. The banking and payments sector is fully committed to working together and collaboratively to ensure provision of branch and payment services during this challenging period.

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”.

The measures 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. Customers wishing to avail of a payment break should contact their respective bank.

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. We are working with all member banks to achieve this.

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 a nd 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. We have had initial discussions with Credit Servicing Firms and with those non-bank lenders who provide mortgages. Both the Credit Servicing Firms and non-bank lenders have issues which we need to address with the Central Bank of Ireland, but 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.”

He said banks are also extremely conscious of the particular challenges which vulnerable customers may face at this time and are committed to ensuring that the well-established policies and measures in place continue to serve their needs.

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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