BRUSSELS, 24 April 2020 — WSBI hosted on 21 April a global webinar on its COVID-19 response.
The webinar provided an overview on how China, the United States and Europe are coping with COVID-19 related challenges. Representatives from more than 25 countries tuned in. >> Watch the recording
>> Learn about WSBI members COVID-19 efforts
Speakers from China included Daniel Lo, Head of Operations Support & Services Division, Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong; Ronald Ho, Acting Chief Executive, Bank of East Asia, Mainland as well as Celine Qi, Manager, Strategic Planning Department, China Guangfa Bank. Bank of East Asia (BEA)’s experience highlighted the importance of good communication, sanitary measures and coordinated emergency responses. Ensuring the health of customers and staff and retaining the same level of customer service are the main guiding principles in the anti-pandemic response. A well-coordinated ‘Emergency Response Team’ with efficient escalating procedure has helped BEA to mobilise and pull out relevant units and resources effectively. China Guangfa Bank shared how banking business has been impacted by the epidemic and its strategy in the short, medium and long- term, outlining how banks could turn current policy measures and COVID-19 into opportunities.
Camden Fine, Former President/CEO, Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), touched upon the US reaction to COVID-19. The US Congress has passed three relief attempts:
US$8.3 billion for research and development;
Covering sick leave, free emergency services, food banks; and
US$2 trillion pay-check protection programme.
Liquidity facilities are set for Main Street banks to support the real economy in the United States. Other government agencies have also eased rules to help banks support their customers such as suspending Basel III entirely. Most financial institutions have shut down their offline channels and provide virtual remote services.
CaixaBank Head of International Relations Joan Rosás gave an overview of EU measures as well as what CaixaBank was doing to support its customers. Measures in the European Union are similar to those taken in other jurisdictions such as tax relief, exemptions, liquidity and fiscal measures. The size of all approved rescue packages in Europe is around 11% of GDP. He also outlined how CaixaBank authorises pensioners to draw on their pensions. It also offers MSMEs pre-approved loans facility to alleviate the potential effects of the coronavirus outbreak on business operations and supported MSMEs clients in revenue generating activities e.g. help them to migrate to E-Commerce platforms and provide them with a direct payment system. In cooperation with Caixa Foundation and volunteers, CaixaBank has issued 200,000 credit cards and distributed them to people with social needs.
Closing the webinar, István Lengyel, Secretary General, Banking Association for Central and Eastern Europe (BACEE), explained how not all countries in Eastern and Central Europe are able to benefit from EU measures. Banks in Central and Eastern Europe have adopted measures similar to those in EU countries, namely enhancing digital service channels, closure of branches, emergency plans.