With the number of people affected with the new coronavirus COVID-19 growing, so is talk of people having to be quarantined. The virus, which has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has already put Italy into lockdown and seen travel bans to other countries around the world.
While it is already having an impact on not only daily life but the Australian and global economies, the government is warning that employees may need to be quarantined as they try to get the virus under control.
But for some people – particularly your self-employed customers – not working for at least two weeks can have a real negative impact on both their business funds and/or their mortgage repayments.
Some banks have issued guidance on the virus outbreak, including measures such as deferred repayments and fee waivers – much like they did with their bushfire relief packages. It is important for you to know how to help your clients when they come to with concerns.
What have the banks said regarding the coronavirus COVID-19 measures?
Many banks have come out with statements regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining how they plan to help their customers.
Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn has said that for those SME customers impacted, the major bank will provide additional resources and hours for commercial lending teams to ensure faster decision times for small business loans. It is also providing additional support measures to impacted business customers by deferring repayments and waiving fees.
CBA is also waiving merchant terminal fees for impacted customers for 90 days, waiving early redraw fees on business term deposit accounts and deferring repayments on vehicle and equipment finance loans, and providing tailored restructuring options.
You can read more about CBA’s plan for COVID-19 here.
Westpac has also announced support measures for business customers financially affected by the virus – these will be in place for an initial period of three months.
Its support measures may include fee free redraws; Business Loan deferred repayments of up to three months; option to extend Business Loan term by up to three months; restructuring and consolidating loans; access to term deposit funds without reduction in interest rate; deferred payments for Business Credit Cards; and, business financial counselling access.
You can read more about Westpac’s plan for COVID-19 here.
Bank of Queensland
Bank of Queensland (BOQ) has also announced a Fast Track Hardship Assistance for customers – and this is not only limited to business customers.
Measures may include, the ability to defer mortgage and/or loan repayments; special arrangements in relation to arrears; the option to make interest only repayments; early access to term deposit funds with waiver of redemption fee; or, the waiver of other fees and charges related to non-payments.
These measures will be decided on a case-by-case basis. You can find out more about these and contact details here.
We will continue to update this article as more guidance comes out.