SAMA pledges support for customers hit by coronavirus


Saudi Gazette report

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) said on Sunday that it has instructed local banks to restructure financing for customers without extra fees as well as to provide financing needed by customers who lose their jobs.

The central bank said banks should review interest and other fees levied on credit cards in line with the recent drop in interest rates. The guidelines are part of measures aimed at stemming the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, it said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

In its statement, SAMA pledged support to bank customers who lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus crisis and offered financial support for any charges incurred as a result.

The central bank instructed that rates will be preserved by providing the necessary support to individual customers who have lost their jobs in the private sector, and that all customers shall be exempted from e-transaction fees, minimum balance fees and from any fees imposed on refinancing operations or on terminating existing agreements for a period of at least six months.

“The measures taken include supervisory measures and their precautionary policies to counter the effects of the coronavirus. This aims to support banks at the present time and help them focus on providing the best banking services to their customers to meet their financial needs.”

The central bank emphasized that it was important for banks to support their customers through various means so that they can withstand the impact of the epidemic as well as to support the private sector to mitigate the effects of a drop in cash flows.

These mean including supporting and financing the private sector through taking precautionary measures that benefit the customer, the bank, and the economy.

The bank said this would be achieved by adjusting or restructuring existing funds without incurring any additional costs or fees on bank so as to mitigate the impacts and enable them to continue supporting plans of customers to maintain employment rates of enterprises affected by the spread of coronavirus.

SAMA also instructed to review the reassessment of interest rates and other fees on credit cards for current and new customers in line with the current decrease in interest rates as a result of the corona-related economic situation.

The fees on foreign money transfer, charged by banks from customers, will be refunded if the customers wish to cancel the transactions. Those who cancel travel-related reservations made on credit cards or Mada debit cards or pre-paid cards will also be refunded.

The central bank said that it is following up on all developments of the coronavirus-related impact on various economic sectors, including the banking and financial sector.

SAMA will provide all necessary means of support to maintain the safety and stability of the financial sector and enable it to support and finance various activities of other economic sectors.

It also stressed the importance of banks to follow all developments and challenges and their impact on the available capital and liquidity levels and other financial safety indicators.