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Covid-19: Extra measures matter

Covid-19: Extra measures matter

ESBG member in Austria goes beyond: support Red Cross, ease loan deferrals, help social economy.​

>> Learn more about social economy effort 

>> See press release on moratoria

BRUSSELS, 8 June 2020 – The Austrian Savings Banks Association, a WSBI-ESBG member, takes measures above and beyond the call of duty to help people manage and remain resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From donations to the Austrian Red Cross to launching a voucher campaign to support regional businesses, the association of savings banks in the country, finds creative ways to help the country's nearly 9 million people and ​many of the more than 330,000 small and medium-sized firms that employ ​​some 2 million people nationwide. 

Vouchers bought from various companies are donated to those in need. This is done in coordination with aid organisations. The companies where the vouchers can be redeemed include high street retailers and grocers, bakeries, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons, farmers and winegrowers, taxi companiesTo support local associations committed to active work with youth, even in times of crisis, vouchers for products and services by local companies can be redeemed once government measures in place to fight the corona crisis have been lifted. The effort supports both local associations and the regional economy.

Other measures include:

  • Open corona helpline for companies, other professionals and private individuals, that is available every day (including weekends). 
  • Facilitated loan deferrals through simple online processing: A dedicated webpage for entrepreneurs has been developed, that provides valuable information about available funding programs and other support measures, ranging from tools for liquidity planning to downloadable applications for bridging finance and instalment deferrals. The form for requesting loan deferrals is downloadable from the website and also available in the App George. 
  • Corona Ombudsman: A dedicated Corona Ombudsman was introduced as a neutral point of contact for customers to help clarify and resolve issues. 
  • Online payment solutions for local SMEs: The local economy was also supported during the lockdown by making available online payment solutions to local enterprises, that do not have an online shop or digital payment solutions, which, however, were making home deliveries. 
  • Emergency information platform: An information platform was established in order to ensure that important information for the region reached the local population. 
  • Support to people from risk groups: As of 2 April , one hour between 9 and 10 am has been reserved for visits from people from risk groups. 

Dedicated websites

The Austrian savings banks association has two websites dedicated to Covid-19. Therein clients will find information about our supports regarding financing, deferrals, extensions of credit lines, payments, insurance etc; our safety measures in the branches as well as further information about the governmental legislation and provisions.   

Deferrals and extensions of credit lines

Erste Bank and Sparkassen also provide individual support to companies through bridge financing, deferrals or extension of the credit lines even without public guarantees.  The Austrian Savings Banks Foundation – Erste Foundation has created a CEE solidarity fund with the objective to help small and medium-sized NGOs in CEE to overcome the current crisis (non-repayable grants). Further support is in the planning (e.g. interest free loans for medium-sized NGOs). 

​Erste Bank, ERSTE Foundation supporting Austria's social economy

​Austrian savings bank association members like Erste Bank take extra steps on the social economy front. Erste's Social Banking facility offers cash-flow assistance for customers serving the local social economy as non-profit organisations, while the ERSTE Foundation covers all loan-interest payments for 2020. AImed at helping affected institutions overcome financial strains resulting from the coronavirus crisis, the service forms part of a broader social-banking initiative by the Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation, which seeks to provide some €25 million in liquid funds for non-profit organisations operating in the banking group's markets.

The Erste Bank service aims to serve registered non-profit associations and foundations – POs/NGOs – operating in the fields of health, nursing and social welfare. The liquidity measures are being implemented as quickly as possible, independently of the upcoming national support scheme, using the services of the promotional bank, the Austrian Economic Chambers and the ÖHT bank. Non-profit organisations can apply for a bridging loan up to €300,000 through their Erste Bank support service. At the same time, the ERSTE Foundation will also be supporting the borrowing social institutions by covering interest payments for the new financing measures until the end of the year.

'Providing this service to the social economy is all the more important because it, like many other businesses, currently needs bridging loans in order to cope with their growing workload. It is precisely in these times of economic and health crises that NGOs are being required to increase and diversify their support offerings', says Günter Benischek, Head of Social Banking at Erste Bank.

That's why Erste Bank and the ERSTE Foundation are collectively seeking to recognise the local social economy and the many activities of its institutions in Austria, and ensure its survival.​

>> Learn more about social economy effort 

Credit moratorium: Credit deferrals through simple online processing

​Erste Bank and Sparkassen​ announced 8 April that private individuals and small businesses can quickly take deferrals. 

The aim is to help people who have run into financial difficulties due to the Corona crisis in a quick and unbureaucratic manner. Unemployment of one or more family members, short-time work or the collapse or loss of income in small businesses often mean that the monthly loan installments can no longer be paid. The newly adopted state credit moratorium targets precisely these groups of people and grants private and small and small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover of up to two million euros in sales to defer their loans from April to June.

The implementation of the deferral is simple at Erste Bank and Sparkassen. The affected customer fills out an online form on the homepage , sends it off and receives the deferral. The form for the deferral is also available from Digital Banking George.

“The credit moratorium is a very sensible measure to ease the Corona crisis. Now it is a matter of quick and unbureaucratic processing of the deferral. The customer shouldn't have to come or inquire first, but simply fill it out online and take the deferral,” says Erste Bank CEO Peter Bosek.

“If the April rate has already been paid, it can also be refunded. Like the deferral agreement, this can also be done quickly online, ”explains Austrian Savings Banks Association President Gerhard Fabisch. “In addition, the deferred interest and installments do not fall due in July, but only at the end of the loan term. This is extended by the deferred rates and the interest accruing for them. The interest remains unchanged for the deferred portion, no default interest is charged. This is a workable model that will effectively alleviate the financial pressure on Corona for our priv​ate and small corporate customers.”

The Erste Bank and Spark​asse ​joint ​website contain information for companies to not only find the form for the deferral but also helpful information about the support programs and other support measures. This ranges from tools for liquidity planning to downloadable applications for bridging finance and installment deferrals. A dedicated corona helpline for companies and the liberal professions and private available every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. answers questions – even on weekends.

Communication - institutional & commercial; Regional economy; Responsible Business