BPFI welcomes Central Bank confirmation that customer credit records will not be impacted by Covid-19 payment breaks

Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) CEO Brian Hayes has welcomed confirmation from the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) that there will be no impact to the Central Credit Register (CCR) credit records of customers who avail of a payment break as a result of being financially impacted by Covid-19.

Mr Hayes said “This statement to be very much welcomed. This CBI confirmation provides borrowers with reassurance and confidence that they can avail of a payment break and do not have to worry about it impacting their credit record on the Central Credit Register.

“The CBI has published some very helpful information on this issue on the Covid-19 section of its Consumer Hub. It outlines how customers who agree a payment break with their lender as a response to Covid-19, including a break with no payments at all, will not have this break identified specially on their credit report and no ‘missed payments’ will be recorded on the Central Credit Register (CCR) during this period. For more details on this customer can access this information via the homepage of the CBI’s website.” (https://www.centralbank.ie/consumer-hub/covid-19/consumers)

The Central Credit Register, operated by the CBI, stores personal and credit information on loans of €500 or more and produces credit reports for lenders and borrowers on request.

 

Note: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: For further information contact Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie  087 9016880

28,000 mortgage breaks granted or in the process of being granted in the 1st week

BPFI (Banking and Payment Federation Ireland) CEO Brian Hayes, speaking on RTÉ’s Saturday View programme today, confirmed that 28,000 mortgage payment breaks had been processed or are in the middle of being processed, just over one week after the initiative had been announced.  Speaking in RTÉ this afternoon Mr. Hayes also confirmed that between 8,000 and 10,000 payment breaks for SMEs were also granted or in the process of being granted to those impacted by Covid-19.

The joint bank plan by the five retail banks was announced just over a week ago with daily calls to the call centres reaching highs of 7,000 calls a day earlier in the week. Banks have been reallocating up to 50% of their staff in some cases, updating websites and introducing new online facilities to manage the huge volumes of applications and queries they have been receiving.

Mr. Hayes also confirmed that the new contactless payment increased limit from €30 to €50 is being rolled out with the aim of completing it nationally as of this Wednesday (1 April).

He said: “The demand for contactless payment is growing and we know that the demand for cash is down 20%. At the end of last year consumers made more than 1.5 million contactless payments a day. In the current environment there is an even greater increased in the demand for using contactless payments.

“Several parties including banks, retailers and technology companies have been working closely together on the rollout. Due to the many technicalities involved there is no central method by which this can be delivered, but rather it is case of all parties working together to ensure consumers can avail of the new limit of €50. We are confident that it will be complete by April 1st.

Continued growth shown in February Mortgage Approvals, driven by first-time buyers

Some 3,514 mortgages to the value of €825 million were approved in February

Approvals growth driven mainly by first-time buyers, with FTB volumes up 11.6% year on year

Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) has published the latest figures from the BPFI Mortgage Approvals Report for February 2020.*

The following are the key elements:

  • A total of 3,514 mortgages were approved in February – some 1,890 (53.8%) were for first-time buyers (FTBs) while mover purchasers accounted for 849 (24.2%).
  • The number of mortgages approved rose by 7.6% month-on-month and by 4.5% year-on-year.
  • Mortgages approved in February 2020 were valued at €825 million – of which FTBs accounted for €455 million (55.2%) and €221 million (26.8%) by mover purchasers.
  • The value of mortgage approvals rose by 10.9% month-on-month and by 9.0% year-on-year.

Re-mortgage/switching volumes fell by 1.4% on the previous month but rose by 8.2% year-on-year.

 

[*] The full time series of monthly data from January 2011 onwards is available on the BPFI website.

 Note: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: For further information contact Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie 087 9016880

Rollout of contactless limit increase well underway as all parties work towards national completion by 1 April

Banks, retailers and technology companies amongst parties collaborating to deliver full rollout

Demand for cash down 20%

Consumers made more than 1.5 million contactless payments a day in Q4 2019

Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) have today said that several parties including banks, retailers and technology companies are working closely together on the rollout of the increased contactless payment limit from €30 to €50 with the aim of delivering the new increased limit across all retail outlets nationally by April 1st.

Speaking on the increased limit and the work which is being currently underway to ensure this happens as quickly as possible, BPFI Head of Payment Schemes, Gill Murphy said: “The roll out is well underway and BPFI is working in collaboration with all the various parties involved, to make sure the new limit is available across all retail outlets by 1 April.  We are working together to make it happen as a matter of urgent priority in order to facilitate consumers’ ability to make some payments without the need for physical contact. Due to the many technicalities involved there is no central method by which this can be delivered, but rather it is case of all parties working together to ensure consumers can avail of the new limit of €50. We are confident that it will be complete by April 1st.

“In these challenging times we also encourage consumers and retailers to follow the HSE advise when using card terminals to pay for goods in-store where the input of a PIN may still be required. And in addition, we would also remind consumers that in a time where we may all be shopping on-line more, we need to ensure we protect ourselves and think about our own personal security as we shop.”

“We note and acknowledge the recent call from the Government and HSE in respect of the increased contactless limit and again take this opportunity to reassure that this change is already well underway and progressed by the Industry. Banks are committed to the continued provision of all services and have robust plans in place across all payment products including cash, cards, electronic payments.”

Key Contactless and Cash Figures

  • As we have seen in other European countries, in these difficult times the demand for cash has reduced in by circa 20%. This is a combination of reduced overall spending but also a consumer choice to use cards instead of cash. We’re also likely to see some impact from retail outlets closing temporarily and greater demand for online shopping and home delivery.
  • Ahead of the current crisis we were starting to see evidence of cash usage decreasing in Q4 2019, partly due to the growth in contactless payments.
  • Consumers made more than 1.5 million contactless payments a day in Q4 2019
  • The number of contactless credit and debit card payments () grew by 26% year-on-year with nearly 141 million payments valued at more than €1.7 billion.
  • In volume terms, an estimated 41% of all credit and debit card payments were contactless in Q4 2019, while 11% of the value of card payments were contactless. A further 38% of the value of card payments was for ecommerce (online) transactions according to the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI).
  • Contactless payments are relatively low value, averaging €12.25 per payment in Q4 2019, compared with €41.53 for all debit cards and €74.60 for all credit cards.
  • In annual terms, there were 508 million contactless payments in 2019 valued at more than €6.1 billion, more than double the volume (224 million) and value (€2.8 billion) in 2017.
  • As card usage continues to grow, consumers are moving away from cash: CBI data suggest that the value of cash withdrawn from ATMs by Irish cardholders fell by 1.3% in 2019 to €19.7 billion, while the number of cash withdrawals dropped below 2015 levels to 148 million

 

 

Notes: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880 or jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie

Banks prioritise Covid-19 impacted customers as volume of calls for mortgage support reaches 7,000 per day

Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) have today outlined the scale of the demand for payment breaks as a direct result of Covid-19 with member banks experiencing a 400% increase in calls seeking financial support including an average of 7,000 calls a day from customers looking for information on mortgage payment breaks.

Speaking about the volume of calls, BPFI CEO Brian Hayes said: “Banks have made it their urgent priority to help those who are financially impacted as quickly as possible and to put their payment break in place, whether the customer is an individual, a family or a business. All banks have dedicated Covid-19 website pages, with banks offering a combination of dedicated phone lines and online applications. All bank systems have been simplified and are running live since Monday morning. Banks worked 24 hours a day over the weekend to make sure new easy to follow application systems were put in place for customers impacted by Covid 19 and the staff helping them to make their application.

There have been monumental changes to manage the flow of calls and applications with customer facing staff working around the clock to help those most impacted. Banks are reallocating non-customer facing staff and all of its customer facing staff to supporting customers and improving processes for those impacted by Covid 19. This covers IT teams, Credit and Risk Teams, Digital Teams and Operations Teams. Naturally, banks are also experiencing reduced staff numbers because of a variety of Covid-19 related circumstances, impacting anything from 15% to 25% of staff in some cases.

BPFI are planning an advertising campaign in the coming days in association with the five retail banks to communicate key detail to customers and to highlight that priority is being given to those impacted by Covid-19.”

Facts on Calls

Estimated daily calls re mortgage payment breaks are 7,000 (mix of queries about the future and requests for actual payment breaks)

  • 400% increase in calls seeking support since middle of March (Mar 17th)
  • Biggest surge in calls came last Thursday after the banks jointly announced a payment break
  • In some cases, Payment Break Instructions have gone from 10-15 per week to 800-900 per day.
  • In contrast – there were less than 1,000 moratoria/payment breaks in total up to end September 2019.

Business Landscape

  • Estimated daily business customer calls seeking payment breaks/modifications is 500/day
  • Estimated increase in Business Credit Applications – 300% – 400%
  • SME call volumes have doubled per day and exceeding the one thousand mark (easily) per day
  • Overall fivefold increase in calls to banks’ SME lines overall
  • Huge surge since the second week of March with thousands of SMEs contact banks since the beginning of the Covid-19 escalation.

Features of Calls & Online Activity

  • Tens of thousands of visits to the Covid-19 website pages
  • Branches down – footfall has reduced from initial rush down 20%-24% (APPROX WEEK ON WEEK)
  • People using branches less and less
  • Where online application firms are available, banks are seeing large number using the online facilities – in the thousands in recent days.
  • On line information, digital forms supporting reduction in branch footfall
  • Customers continue to avail of digital channels to carry-out their banking needs. We are seeing above average levels of usage with millions of logins across Mobile, Internet Banking

Employees

  • Monumental changes to manage the flow of calls and applications.
  • Banks reallocating non-customer facing staff and all of its customer facing staff to supporting customers and improving processes for those impacted by Covid 19. This covers Central Teams, IT teams, Credit and Risk Teams, Digital Teams, Operations Teams, Communications Teams and Change Teams. Could be close to 50% reallocation in some cases.
  • Change has involved designing new processes, making new product enhancements available and training staff on how to manage these queries in a very short period of time.
  • A number of colleagues working on the priority lines are working long hours to ensure customer requests are facilitated.
  • Banks have relocated staff across a multiple of buildings to spread our building concentration risk and have remote working from home where practical.
  • Staff are being very flexible and taking on different roles to facilitate customer needs
  • Customer facing areas are typically experiencing between 15% – 20% – 25% absence levels directly attributable to Covid19 which is made up of leave / sick leave / carers and self-isolation/ partners in health care jobs/ caring for children or older relatives.
  • Colleagues cancelling holidays to support the call centres
  • Colleagues on part time contracts offering to extend hours
  • Flexibility from colleagues in role (advisors on floor; taking and making follow up calls)
  • In order to meet the recommended HSE social distancing criteria the number of colleagues in each building needed to reduce significantly
  • Calls can be longer – an average 5 mins longer than usual at on average 18 mins – naturally given the issues and the pressure people are under.

 

Notes: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880 or jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie

Bank and payments staff are also front-line workers in battle against Covid-19

Brian Hayes, BPFI CEO

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed all of us in unprecedented circumstances, and exceptional measures are required from all of us to get through it.

As the Taoiseach so aptly put it in his address to the nation: “In years to come, let them say of us, when things were at their worst, we were at our best.”

Just as our healthcare workers, our emergency and public transport services and our food retail staff are demonstrating, bank staff too are striving to do their best to support customers and the economy.

Many of the 28,000 people who work across financial institutions in Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) member firms are working on the front line.

They are helping to ensure continuity of service in the day-to-day banking and payments services that we readily take for granted – whether we avail of those services through the branch, telephone, internet or mobile device.

These are the people who help facilitate the 3.5 million debit and credit card payments, 406,000 ATM transactions and 73,000 cash-based transactions in bank branches that typically take place here daily.

Continuity of service is just one key challenge.

Another is the capacity of our customers to sustain themselves financially in the face of growing unemployment. Uniquely, all of the main retail banks have come together to provide a range of supports for personal and business customers whose circumstances have been impacted by the virus crisis.

These important measures include:

  • A payment break for up to three months, which is available to personal and business customers. Such breaks can be followed by further reviews, depending on the extent of the customer’s financial difficulties. Customers seeking a payment break should contact their bank. Each is implementing a streamlined application process.
  • Banks deferring court proceedings for three months.
  • Provision of working capital facilities and supply-chain supports to businesses.

Following discussions with the Central Bank, we are satisfied a repayment break of up to three months will not adversely impact on the customer’s credit record or on the bank’s reporting of this facility. Further discussions are taking place with the Central Bank regarding the implications of any longer-term repayment break.

Mortgage-related payment breaks and deferrals of court proceedings are also being made available by the non-bank mortgage lenders and main credit-servicing firms. This effectively means the vast majority of mortgage holders in Ireland can seek these support measures.

I would urge customers to contact their bank if they feel the need for any of the supports I have outlined. Many people are facing reduced household income through no fault of their own. Our banks are standing by to assist them wherever possible.

Early engagement is key. It trumps unilateral action by the customer any day. Those fortunate enough to continue making their repayments should do so, otherwise debt will be built up unnecessarily.

Our member firms are working flat out to honour their commitments by putting in place streamlined systems to facilitate customer applications efficiently and to deliver appropriate solutions over the weeks and months ahead.

However, banks’ call centres are experiencing a 200-fold increase in the volumes of call.

So while people’s anxiety to find ways to quickly deal with their financial difficulties is perfectly understandable, patience is needed to make sure we get these things right.

At BPFI we have put in place several cross-sector co- ordinating groups drawn from across our member firms. These are working daily to provide continuity of existing services and to develop and manage contingency plans for all sorts of challenges which may lie ahead.

Undertaken in close consultation with the Central Bank of Ireland, the Government and other stakeholders, this work will mitigate, as much as is humanly possible, any service disruptions for customers.

In this regard, the statement by Central Bank governor Gabriel Makhlouf in the ‘Sunday Independent’ – that no effort will be spared to protect consumers, households and firms from the economic effects of this crisis – is very reassuring.

So is the commitment of the Central Bank to work with BPFI and our member firms to provide financial breathing space to our customers.

Which brings me back to people. Yes, automated systems deliver a great deal, not least in the financial sector.

But we still depend hugely on our people to take decisions, to implement them and to deliver them across the range of banking services.

The commitment and capacity of our people are our strongest resources in this battle against the coronavirus and in our sector’s determined efforts to play the best role we can in supporting others.

 

Brian Hayes is chief executive of the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland. BPFI represents the interests of 100 member firms, including licensed domestic and foreign banks, non-bank mortgage lenders and credit-servicing firms.

BPFI Statement following meeting with Central Bank of Ireland

Speaking after a meeting between the CEOs of Ireland’s five retail banks, their representative body Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) and the Central Bank of Ireland, BPFI Chief Executive Brian Hayes said he welcomed the engagement today which allowed for a range of regulatory issues to be discussed.

The BPFI CEO said: “We had constructive engagement across several issues aimed at helping businesses and personal customers impacted by Covid-19. Engagement over the coming days will allow for further discussions and exchange of views on key issues in the medium to long term”.

“As we’ve already stated, these are exceptional circumstances in which people now find themselves and we will continue to work hard to ensure we can support those most affected by Covid-19”, concluded Mr. Hayes.

 

*CEO BNP Paribas was also in attendance, representing the international bank members of BPFI.

Credit Servicing Firms and Non-Bank Mortgage Lenders Commit to Customer Support in the Face of Covid-19

The country’s main credit servicing firms and non-bank mortgage lenders have today confirmed their intention to support the range of measures announced yesterday by the country’s main retail banks.

As members of Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), all of these firms (listed below) wish to help those of their customers who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Given their focus on the mortgage market, they plan to do this by way of a mortgage repayment break of up to three months and deferral of court proceedings for three months.

In making this commitment these firms are very conscious of the need for appropriate guidance from the Central Bank of Ireland in respect of a number of important matters, including customer documentation and process, the operation of the Central Credit Register and possible impact on securitisation.

At the same time, these firms will need adequate time to address a range of operational issues in order to be able to provide meaningful supports to customers as appropriate.

Welcoming today’s decision, BPFI CEO, Brian Hayes stated:

“I am delighted that our main credit servicing firms and non-bank providers will be supporting their customers just as our retail banks are supporting theirs.  Together, they can provide extremely important support to borrowers when it is most needed.  We are already in discussion with the Central Bank of Ireland on a range of matters arising from the retail bank joint plan; we will now be including additional issues that are particular to the credit servicing firms and non-bank mortgage lenders”.

Notes:

The relevant firms are:

  • Dilosk/ICS Mortgages
  • Finance Ireland
  • Investec Private Finance Ireland Limited
  • Lapithus
  • Link Group
  • Mars Capital
  • Pepper
  • Start

Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880 or jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie

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

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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Banks will also defer court proceedings for three months.
  1. The banking system stands ready to provide working capital support.
  1. 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.”

 

 

Notes: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880 or jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie