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Wide range of solutions available for customers coming off Covid-19 six-month payment breaks

28th September 2020

2,500 staff across the five banks working with customers on a case by case basis

The CEOs of the five retails banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, PTSB and Ulster Bank DAC) and their representative body BPFI today said that a wide range of solutions were being made available for customers coming off the special Covid-19 six-month payment breaks and that following an assessment of each customer’s situation, a solution that reflected their individual circumstances, would be put in place.

Speaking after a constructive meeting at which the CEOs briefed An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath, the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) CEO, Mr. Brian Hayes, said: “2,500 staff across the five banks are actively working with customers coming off the special Covid-19 six-month payment break to fully understand their situation and to put in place an individual solution for them. The focus is on engagement, assessment, and solutions for those most impacted financially by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our aim is to offer individually tailored plans that will help customers manage what is a challenging and stressful situation.”

The banks emphasised their preparedness to support the economy through the Covid-19 crisis and, to that end, has committed enormous staff resources and funding to assist customers at this time of enormous stress.

Mr. Hayes said: “While the deadline for applications for the blanket Covid-19 payment break is September 30th, traditional payment breaks that have always been available to customers will continue to form part of the range of solutions available to customers.  These solutions will be assessed on a case by case basis and with all of the information on the table, an approach that will help lenders to find the best solution for the customer.”

“The previous industry-wide Covid-19 payment breaks were not reported on the Central Credit Register as ‘missed or past-due’, however individual solutions that now involve a further payment break or any alternative repayment arrangements are legally required to be recorded on the Central Credit Register. However, a customer’s good credit record can be restored over time should they be in a position to return to full repayments. It is important to state that fact”.

Mr. Hayes said: “We are encouraging those coming off their payment break to talk through their situation with their lender and to fully use all the bank resources available to them, from the banks’ support units through to the support phone lines. We would also encourage customers to visit paymentbreak.ie and access the BPFI’s easy to follow Guide to ‘Coming off the Payment Break.”

The BPFI CEO highlighted that the banks have committed significant resources to helping customers coming off the Covid-19 payment break. Banks have recruited extra staff and redeployed staff from other areas of their operations to help customers as they exit their payment break. In a number of cases, banks have doubled the size of their specialist units to ensure maximum support is given to those most impacted by Covid-19”.

While initial demand for payment breaks was very strong, requests have since tapered off, particularly among mortgage customers.

Assessing the special Covid-19 payment break figures, the BPFI CEO said: “Latest BPFI figures, as of the end of August, show that payment breaks were applied to 157,000 customer accounts over the past six months. This includes payment breaks on mortgages, personal loans, and SME loans. Over half the payment breaks put in place since March applied to mortgages (est. 89,000 accounts) and almost 37,000 of these went on to take mortgage payment break extensions. Lenders also put in place payment breaks for c. 32,000 SMEs and 4,000 Corporate accounts.”

 

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

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