Spain’s CaixaBank has granted €8bn ($8.7bn) to businesses to minimise the economic impact of the country’s coronavirus-induced lockdown.
The bank provided businesses with loans during the period between March 16 and March 31. Its aim was to drive a speedy recovery of the Spanish economy, by facilitating credit flow and supporting businesses.
Gonzalo Gortázar, CEO of CaixaBank, said: “Our main priority is the health and safety of our employees and the fulfilment of our obligations to our clients and other stakeholders.
“We intend to make good use of CaixaBank’s strong position to provide liquidity and assistance to our clients. This will enable them to weather the current crisis and contribute to a quick recovery.”
The businesses that received support included, large companies, SMEs, self-employed workers and entrepreneurs.
In addition, CaixaBank has received over 90,000 loan requests from its clients, totalling over €8.5bn ($9.3bn).
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Measures to minimise COVID-19
The announcement comes after CaixaBank introduced a range of measures to minimise the economic effects of COVID-19.
The bank’s insurance company VidaCaixa has contributed to a initiative by Unespa, aimed at promoting a collective life insurance cover for all Spanish healthcare providers for six months in the event of death or hospitalisation due to COVID-19. One hundred insurers participated in this initiative in accordance with their market share, with a joint contribution of €37m ($46m).
CaixaBank clients who draw their pensions through the bank have benefitted from the measures to bring forward payments to the 20th day of the month as well as the introduction of priority schemes to assist senior citizens.
In addition, all CaixaBank clients entitled to unemployment benefits who started to receive them last month or earlier have been granted access to these funds seven days earlier than usual.
CaixaBank offered a rental payment holiday to eligible tenants of the homes owned by its subsidiary BuildingCenter. This measure will be in force until the government declares the end of the state alarm.
Furthermore, as a member of CECA (Confederación Española de Cajas de Ahorro) CaixaBank has joined the banking trade associations’ commitment to defer for up to 12 months capital payments for those whose mortgages have been impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, the bank has deferred capital payments for personal consumption-linked loans for a period of up to 6 months.
In response to the situation, CaixaBank has launched a support scheme for small retail businesses. The measures taken include special financing, waiving of POS terminal fees and the launch of a new e-commerce technology solution provided by CaixaBank to help small retailers boost online sales.
To help clients avoid non-essential travel to ATMs, CaixaBank will waive fees for clients withdrawing funds from other Spanish financial institutions’ ATMs. This variable fee was previously charged directly to the customer.
CaixaBank is maintaining its branch network open to the public to ensure continued access to essential retail banking services. It has implemented strict security measures, and the reinforcement of digital services, and of the operations of the more than 9,000 ATMs.
Gortázar added: “The bank is fully operational and performing as expected under business continuity planning. The majority of branches are open and most employees are working remotely. We are also ensuring at all times the provision of banking and insurance services to society.”