Bangkok–(THAI BUSINESS NEWS)–Mar. 23, 2020
The Thai Bankers’ Association and all of its members wish to assure their customers that assistance measures and financial supports are being made available. They have discussed the COVID-19 situation with the Bank of Thailand in order to ensure that all customers and the general public can conduct transactions without interruption. Cash is being reserved in all channels to ensure sufficient liquidity. Meanwhile, both customers and the general public are urged to use electronic payment channels to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection. Each bank will offer assistance measures to both retail and corporate clients affected by the viral pandemic. Most recently, a soft loan scheme worth a total of 150 billion Baht has been launched to assist SME entrepreneurs.
Mr. Predee Daochai, Chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association (TBA), noted that in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has prompted the closure of service establishments and certain types of stores in accordance with the latest announcement of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the TBA and all of its members have formulated a plan to ensure service continuity regardless of circumstances. All customers and the public can be assured that banking services, especially deposits, withdrawal, funds transfer and loan services, as well as liquidity boosting measures, will be available as usual in all channels
For those in need of cash, all banks have already prepared adequate amounts of cash in all channels, both at branches and ATMs. However, customers are advised to use online payment services in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection. Customers can conduct their transactions anywhere, anytime, via the mobile banking and internet banking services of all banks, which have ensured that their systems can accommodate an increase in transactions, and money market transactions will be seamlessly undertaken. Even as the outbreak intensifies, Thailand’s key financial services will continue without any problems.
Since February 2020, commercial banks have gradually released assistance measures for both retail and corporate customers that have been directly and indirectly hurt by the prevailing economic situation. Those measures include, for example, suspension of principal repayment or reduction of minimum monthly installment amounts. While banks are now contacting their customers, any customers that are in financial difficulty or have not been contacted may request assistance from their banks immediately. To date, approximately 30,000 customers in the overall banking system have undergone debt restructuring, equal to a total value of 234 billion Baht, involving suspension of principal repayment, reduction of interest rates and extension of debt repayment periods, in order to ease those customers’ burdens.
On March 20, 2020, the Government Savings Bank (GSB) and 17 other financial institutions signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the soft loan scheme, with the aim of assisting SMEs that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the soft loan scheme, GSB will provide a total of 150 billion Baht to other financial institutions to extend loans to affected SMEs. The maximum loan limit for each SME is 20 million Baht, with an interest rate of 2 percent p.a. and loan repayment period of two years. SMEs wanting loans to bolster liquidity and rehabilitate their businesses can apply now, and they will get the loans from early April onwards.
Mr. Predee added, “The TBA and member banks are committed to helping customers of all banks to weather the current crisis together. Since we have constantly assessed the situation and adjusted the assistance plan, our customers can rest assured that they will be fine. Affected customers who have yet to receive assistance can contact the call centers of all banks immediately.”