BBVA Group is staying ahead of the crisis with a global remote working plan that protects customers and employees alike. It has also ensured continued, uninterrupted operations for both consumer and business customers by strengthening digital access to its full suite of services. To contain the spread of COVID-19, BBVA has significantly reduced the number of employees working in its branch offices.
More than 70,000 employees from across BBVA's international network of offices and its central service functions are now working remotely, following the Group's policies and adhering to new rules announced by national authorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. On average, 90 percent of BBVA’s central service employees are working remotely, and the number of employees physically working across the network of offices has been reduced by 50 percent.
The bank demonstrated its agility and ability to quickly respond by implementing a cross-regional remote working program, which aims to protect both employees and customers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, more than 90 percent of the Group's central service employees are working remotely in countries like Spain, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, and the United States.
In Spain, BBVA remote workers from both central services and the branch offices total 21,000. In Mexico, this figure stands at 23,000 employees; in Colombia, 3,500; and in Peru, 4.200. Nine thousand central service and branch employees at Garanti BBVA, BBVA’s Turkish unit, are working remotely.
While the coronavirus crisis continues, all BBVA operating countries are encouraging customers to use digital and mobile channels to access the bank's services. To this end, and to ensure smooth operations for consumers, SMEs, and large companies alike, the bank has bolstered digital access to its services. Across the BBVA footprint, retail customers have access to a local mobile banking application and a transactional website to conduct a wide array of transactions. Digital services for business customers include the bank's Net Cash application and other niche platforms.
BBVA Tower in Mexico City.
Protecting employees, protecting customers
BBVA, while taking steps to guarantee banking services for the communities it serves, has significantly reduced the number of employees working in branches across its footprint in an effort to prevent contagion between both customers and bank staff.
In Spain, the branch network is operating with approximately 10 percent of normal personnel. Whereas in Peru the bank is operating with 44 percent of its branch employees and has also put into place reduced customer-facing hours of operation, which includes a Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. window. Uruguay BBVA is staying open with half of its branch employees working from home.
The bank's Argentine unit is following a government order to close all bank offices from March 16th through the 31st. Officials have asked banks to increase the teams that keep ATMs supplied with cash. Since last week, BBVA customers in the U.S. have been able to do their banking from the comfort of their car by using the bank’s drive-thru lanes to access a teller.
In both Colombia and Turkey, customers can go to most of the branch offices where a reduced staff will help them with their banking needs. Across the full BBVA footprint, social distancing and hygiene protocols are being observed by both employees and customers. Additional office cleansing procedures have also been put in place.
BBVA headquarters in Peru.
Initiatives to support consumer and business customers
From the outset of the crisis, BBVA announced a series of measures to help different customers and groups cope with the coronavirus pandemic. For example, in Spain the bank launched a €25 billion line of credit for SMEs and the self-employed. In addition it is offering a €400 million line of credit from the Spanish Credit Institute ICO for especially hard-hit companies, those in the tourism, transportation, and hospitality sectors.
In Mexico, among other relief measures, BBVA is providing clients a four-month deferral for payments on mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and car loans. For those clients who need it, the bank will also offer a fixed payment plan in order to reduce the monthly amount due on their credit cards.
In Latin America, BBVA’s Peruvian unit has put in place a line of credit totaling 2.5 billion soles (€640 million) to help local SMEs weather the crisis. Furthermore, the bank has announced measures to make loan payments more flexible with deferrals of up to 90 days. In Colombia the bank announced that it will implement a six-month freeze on monthly payments due for mortgage loans, personal loans, business loans, and co-op loans that are deducted from the customer’s paycheck. The bank will also offer a special 300 billion peso (€70 million) line of working capital for businesses.
In Argentina, the bank has launched a 2 billion peso (€30 million) line of credit to be used to purchase equipment that will allow microbusinesses and SMEs to set themselves up for remote working. In Uruguay, the bank will extend payment due dates by up to 180 days. Specifically, BBVA will accept 90 day-payment deferrals on consumer and car loans, while extending mortgage payments and loan payments from microbusinesses and SMEs up to 180 days.
Measures adopted by the bank in the U.S. benefit consumer customers and SMEs and include a deferral of payments for consumer loans, credit cards, and small business loans. The measures also include penalty-free CD withdrawals, for CDs opened prior to March 1 and the elimination of commissions on specific transactions.
In Turkey, the bank has eliminated fees associated with using third-party ATMs and has increased the cash limit that can be withdrawn from 2,000 Turkish lira (€280) to 5,000 (€710). The bank also announced that for consumer loans, loan and interest payments will be deferred to June 30th without penalties. For its business clients, Garanti BBVA envisages extending commercial credit payments by up to six-months and will create a line of credit specifically for SMEs and microbusinesses.