Banks step up to assist customers impacted by COVID-19Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Some financial institutions in its response to providing support for customers, especially those most affected by the impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has drafted specialised measures to cushion possible effects.
According to the National Commercial Bank (NCB), it understands that customers, in the wake of this unplanned health crisis, will need access to money as well as have assurances of their financial well-being.
“We are committed to guiding customers through these challenging times, and are working to make accessing financial services as easy as possible,” the bank's chief executive officer (CEO), Septimus “Bob” Blake, said in a release on Monday.
The bank has noted the temporary waiver on some services provided for members to aid with penalty interest for late loan payments, breakage fees for fixed deposits, partial withdrawal fees for insurance policies and late payment fees for credit cards (which will also apply to credit card balances generated from April 5 - 26).
In addition, the bank has said that it will be allowing personal customers the opportunity to request a payment holiday on unsecured auto and mortgage loan facilities.
“We have approved a pay advance facility for over 100,000 customers, a one-month loan facility to help customers with urgent cash flow needs. We will waive the loan fee for first-time pay advance customers. They can check to see if they have been pre-approved for the facility by visiting loans.jncb.com and clicking 'check offer', “ the release informed.
Corporate and commercial customers are also urged to contact their relationship managers in order to draft options that are suited to their needs. These may include additional working capital support, loan moratorium on principal payment for existing loans and increases in credit card limit.
In ensuring that no customer is left behind, the bank has also noted that special services are also crafted for member of the very vulnerable and often marginalised small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector.
“We have increased the pool of single digit interest rate loan funding available to SMEs with limited collateral from $3.4 billion to $20 billion. We have reduced the interest rate to 6.5 per cent on these Jamaican dollar facilities. SMEs availing of these facilities will benefit from a moratorium on principal payments of up to six months. SME customers may also access up to $5 million under our 'merchant advance' and 'quick biz' facilities at reduced interest rates,” the release further outlined.
The bank also informed that for those SMEs, who may be interested in private equity or the process of going public, they can benefit from a capital pool of up to $1 billion established by NCB Capital Markets to support alternative financing needs.
Blake further assured customers of the bank's relentless commitment in providing support to all segments as the country navigates this difficult period.
“We continue to reach out to our customers in specific industries, such as tourism and distribution, which have been directly impacted by COVID-19, and are working to provide customised solutions to meet their needs. We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves and stand ready to provide further assistance to our customers.
“We know this is a difficult time for all Jamaicans and we want to assure our customers that we are here to help them get through the COVID-19 situation,” he said.
In addition, JN Bank has suspended all fees to conduct transactions in-branch.
MultiLink fees have also been waived from Saturday, March 14 to Sunday, March 22 for persons using their JN Bank debit cards at MultiLink ATMs, or to make purchases in stores.