Banks institute range of responses to COVID-19

by Madison Utley17 Mar 2020

From central banks around the globe to domestic institutions within Australia, rapid action is being taken to help financially support people through the economic impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. With KPMG modelling indicating it could take Australia's economy nearly a decade to recover even with the government’s stimulus package, major and second-tier banks alike have been announcing new measures to help their customers through this trying time.  

CBA

CBA has unrolled a range of measures for both its retail and businesses customers in response to the spread of COVID-19.

“Australia has a strong and stable financial system and economy, and we recognise the important role we play to support our customers, our people, our suppliers and the economy. We are assessing the impact on our operations on a daily basis," said CEO Matt Comyn. 

CBA has assured the public its 900 branches will remain open for business, and that precautions are being taken at each location to protect the safety of employees and customers. 

The bank has also guaranteed it will “continue to process home loan applications quickly and efficiently”, encouraging mortgage-holding customers facing hardship due to the virus to reach out to discuss the options available to them, such as deferral of loan repayments. 

CBA is reducing rates on business loans by 25 basis points and allowing for the deferral of repayments and the waiving of fees in certain cases; it will also provide additional resourcing and extended hours for commercial lending teams to ensure faster decision times. 

“Commonwealth Bank’s strong financial position means Australians can have confidence in our ability to support the economy in this period of difficulty, through to a time of recovery,” said Comyn. 

Suncorp

Suncorp Bank also announced financial assistance support for customers impacted by COVID-19. 

CEO Lee Hatton said, “We understand this is a difficult and uncertain time for people and businesses. We want our customers in any affected communities and sectors to know assistance is available and that we are here, ready to support them.”

Retail and business customers have been encouraged to reach out for information on the options available to them, such as:

  • The deferral of scheduled loan repayments, including interest only
  • The rearranging of existing loans, such as switching from P&I to interest only with the waiver of establishment fees
  • The waiving of early withdrawal fees for customers wishing to withdraw from term deposits and/or Farm Management Deposits
  • Working capital assistance
  • No interest rate increases

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has highlighted that it’s looking to offer both short and long-term support for business and consumer customers affected by the pandemic.

“This is a unique situation for the global and local economy. Whilst the full reaching human and economic impacts of COVID-19 are still largely unknown and evolving, we are working with the industry and government to manage the impact on our customers, staff, communities and partners. Health, safety and wellbeing will always be of paramount importance,” said Marnie Baker, MD of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

All impacted customers have been encouraged to enquire further about the financial assistance package, which includes: 

  • Relief for up to three months for home loan and business loan customers 
  • Waiving of fees for the restructuring or consolidation of loans 
  • An emergency credit card limit increase 
  • Discounted interest rates on new personal loans taken out by existing customers
  • Waiving of interest rate reductions for early withdrawals on term deposits prior to maturity 
  • The deferral of payments and extensions for equipment finance, on a case by case basis

“We have a responsibility and commitment to support those affected through the good times and the tougher times. In the same way that we have provided and continue to provide support to those affected by bushfires, we will continue to work with customers and their communities on an individual basis both today and in the long-term,” said Baker.