South Africa is on a 21-day lockdown due to the coronavirus. The banks have come to the aid of those in need by offering ‘payment holidays’. The offering by each bank has differing terms and conditions which will be looked at in more detail below.

The biggest concerns to customers are the possible additional charges, ongoing interest and the payments that they have to meet during this time. Before looking into payment holidays customers should first look into their credit insurance, which is often signed up for when the credit is initially extended, and then seen by many clients as a ‘monthly fee’ which is added to the account. Credit insurance could cover the monthly payments during this time, which means that the payment holiday may not be necessary for some customers at all.

The banks have further come to the aid of customers by waving their Saswitch fees at ATMs. These fees are payable by customers when using the ATM of a rival bank rather than your own bank. This is possible as government has temporarily suspended competition measures that would otherwise have such an agreement between banks amount to anti-competitive conduct. The aim behind waiving such a fee is to encourage customers to avoid travelling unnecessarily during this time, as is required during the lockdown.

ABSA

The payment holiday offered by ABSA for ABSA’s credit products. These products include ABSA’s corporate, wealth, business bank, private bank and retail customers. The payment holiday programme is not dependent on the amount earned by the client or on the amount owed to ABSA by the client.

The ABSA payment holiday programme does not add any further administration fees for customers. Within the ABSA structure, corporate and business banking clients have relationship managers, who oversee the individual and unique portfolios of each client. These relationship managers will be the port of call for all corporate and business banking clients to best tailor the programme for their individual needs. For customers without the relationship managers, they automatically qualify for the payment relief programme, but will need to opt-in in order to take advantage of this programme.

The payment relief being offered by ABSA is a three month payment relief. In order to be eligible for this payment relief customers must previously have their accounts up-to-date and have been financially affected by the lockdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. These eligible customers will be able to opt-in for the payment relief programme.

The three possible outcomes during this time for ABSA customers are:

  1. Continue paying if the customer is in the financial position to do so;
  2. Make reduced payments by reaching an agreement with ABSA; or
  3. Defer the payments for a period of three months

Most importantly the customers have to be eligible for this programme and must have reached an agreement with the bank in this regard. The customer has to opt-in, the payment holiday is not automatically applicable to all ABSA customers.

FNB

In order for FNB customers (both individual and business customers) to be eligible for the payment holiday in respect of their obligations to FNB the customer has to demonstrate sound banking behaviour and provide a letter from their employer stating that they have been affected by the virus outbreak or would need to submit financial statements, if self employed.

The FNB payment holiday will include the following benefits for the three months:

  1. Part or no instalments will be due for the specific period;
  2. A preferential interest rate;
  3. No additional fees charged in respect of the payment holiday;
  4. Assistance with credit insurance claims, where applicable; and
  5. Bridging facilities specific to the customer requiring same.

Enquiring about this or applying for the relief can be done through the FNB website or the FNB app. Similarly, customers would have to opt-in for the payment holiday offering with FNB.

NEDBANK

Nedbank is offering a personalised solution for each customer. This will take into account your household’s cash flow being negatively affected by the virus outbreak.

The possible solutions that could be provided by Nedbank include:

  1. Paying a reduced repayment on the loan for a specified period;
  2. Temporarily suspending the repayment of the loan;
  3. Restructuring your loan, so that it could be payable over a longer period than currently calculated; or
  4. For clients who have investments with Nedbank, the penalty fee for releasing the funds early will be waived up to the amount of R200 000-00. This is a limited offer made by Nedbank until the end of June 2020. The Nedbank customers will need to confirm in writing that the reason for the early release of the invested funds is due to an income shortfall.

As with ABSA and FNB, customers would need to opt-in for this offering with Nedbank.

STANDARD BANK

The assistance offered by Standard Bank to their business clients is called the Interruption Payment Scheme, which will provide relief for up to 90 days.

Business clients are eligible for the Interruption Payment Scheme if they meet the following requirements:

  1. Your business is South African based and has an annual turnover of R 20 million or less;
  2. Your business accounts have to be up-to-date or in good standing; and
  3. Your business must be in good standing.

Personal loan relief for businesses will defer all payments until end of June 2020 in respect of credit cards, home loans, personal loans and vehicle finance repayments. In order to be eligible the customer must:

  1. Have a Standard Bank Business Current Account;
  2. Be the owner of a small business (annual turnover of R20 million or less);
  3. Have a Standard Bank credit card, home loan, personal loan or vehicle finance repayments; and
  4. Accounts must be in good standing at 31 March 2020.

Standard Bank will be offering relief to customers earning less than R7500-00 per month. Provided the customer meets the following requirements:

  1. Earns less than R7500-00 per month;
  2. Has a current account with Standard Bank;
  3. Has a personal loan with Standard Bank; and
  4. Your accounts are in good standing at 31 March 2020.

Students are offered specific relief from Standard Bank if they:

  1. Are studying full time;
  2. Have a student loan with Standard Bank; and
  3. The loan is in good standing at 31 March 2020.

Unlike ABSA, FNB and Nedbank, Standard Bank’s offerings are automatically applicable to eligible clients, and should business clients, individual clients or students not wish to deviate from their current payments they are required to opt-out from the Interruption Payment Scheme.

Please note that this does not amount to financial advice. Consult with your respective banking institution in order to find out what would be applicable to your personal situation.