In 2020, BBVA took a step forward to protect its employees and support its customers and society as a whole, to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. In a year marked by the virus, the bank has launched initiatives across the world to alleviate the financial burden of those worst hit by the pandemic and provide funding for the economic recovery.
From the beginning of the pandemic, BBVA established two priorities: on the one hand, to guarantee the health of all employees and the customers and society as a whole; and on the other, continue providing its services and supporting its customers.
Already in March, anticipating the recommendations of the authorities, BBVA - first in Spain and then in the remaining countries — designed and implemented a remote work plan. The number of teleworking employees reached more than 70 percent worldwide (95 percent of central services employees and 66 percent of the office network). Currently, central services employees are working according to special work schedules adjusted to the pandemic scenario, prioritizing safety and health.
At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, BBVA started advising its clients and customers to resort to the bank’s digital channels and remote managers to cover their banking needs. In addition, it implemented a plan aimed at making it easier for non-digital users to bank from home, saving them the need to visit an office. BBVA did keep some branches open, as banking was declared an essential service in countries like Spain. As a general rule, the Group’s branch network remains open, following strict safety and hygiene protocols. Likewise, BBVA continues to deliver best in class services to its clients through digital channels.
Also in March, BBVA doubled down on its efforts to support society’s fight against the pandemic and made an initial donation of €25 million. This figure finally grew to a total of €46 million donated across the bank’s footprint to support health authorities and social organizations and promote scientific research. An amount which includes €35 million in direct donations from BBVA and the BBVA Foundation and donations €11 million donated by employees and customers.
That same month, Carlos Torres Vila also announced that - as an act of responsibility with society, customers and clients, shareholders and employees given the unfolding context - the bank’s global and local leadership teams had agreed to forgo their variable pay and bonuses for 2020.
Initiatives for vulnerable individual customers and companies, by country
Due to the financing services they provide, banks are an essential part of the solution to the COVID-19 crisis. This is why BBVA has rolled out a series of support initiatives for companies, SMEs and the self-employed, and also for individuals bearing the brunt of the crisis, including moratoria on mortgage and consumer loan installments. Across its footprint as a whole, through September, BBVA processed moratoria totaling €35.6 billion.
BBVA will devote the €35 million donation to battle the disease, helping health authorities and social organizations in the countries where it operates, while fostering scientific research. - BBVA
BBVA immediately announced a €25 billion line of credit available to SMEs and the self-employed to mitigate the economic impact of coronavirus. The bank also backed the Official Credit Institute’s (ICO) first 400 million line of credit to help companies in the tourism, transportation and hospitality industries. In addition, BBVA has strongly supported the credit programme with state guarantees, known as Líneas ICO. To date (with data as of 19 October) BBVA has managed more than 150,000 operations, which have made it possible to finance SMEs, the self-employed and companies.
Also in Spain, through the Spanish Banking Association (AEB in Spanish), BBVA, along with the rest of Spanish banks, postponed mortgage payments for those hit especially hard by this crisis. Moreover, it promoted, along with other domestic lenders a three month mortgage moratorium for people in homes with social rent schemes from the Social Housing Fund. BBVA approved a series of measures aimed at facilitating loan payments for individual customers affected by the coronavirus crisis.
As for individuals, during the lockdown, BBVA brought forward the unemployment and retirement benefits payment dates. As for pensioners, BBVA waived all fees on third-party ATM withdrawals for pensioners, to encourage them to use the closest ATMs to their homes.
Likewise, the bank offered its customers more flexible options to meet their insurance and card payments during the crisis. BBVA also processed requests for withdrawals from private pension funds filed by individuals affected by furloughed (ERTE) or laid off workers, as stipulated by the amendment of the corresponding regulations.
In Latin America
BBVA rolled out a comprehensive plan in the region to financially support its retail and wholesale customers and clients and contribute to society, while guaranteeing the health of its employees and clients.
Thus, since the beginning of the pandemic, BBVA activated specific programs for businesses, SMEs and the self-employed, but also for those hardest hit by the coronavirus. One of the most noteworthy aspects was the approved moratoria, which resulted in the rescheduling of more than 25 percent of the loan portfolio in Colombia, Peru or Mexico. Over €20 billion were rescheduled, and more than three million families or companies benefited from these relief programs. In addition, the Group continued granting loans and taking part in different government support programs for companies to prevent cash-flow disruptions from escalating into default situations.
BBVA announced a deferral of up to four months on a number of products from its loan catalog for customers and clients. Furthermore, it rolled out a fixed payment plan to lower their monthly payments on their credit card balances and an initiative to help customers and clients face their healthcare and pharmacy expenses when paying with a BBVA credit card by offering six months with no interest
The bank also waived all fees on Point of Sale terminals, to support stores with weak sales. For larger corporate clients, it offered support plans based on their particular situation.
BBVA allowed the consolidation of debt on consumer loans and/or credit cards, by means of the extension of the payment period and a fee reduction of up to 40% percent. In addition, it approved a €2.5 billion Peruvian sols (around €640 million) line of loans to support Peruvian SMEs.
Also, BBVA Peru offered the lowest interest rates in the financial system in the auction of funds from the government's Reactiva Peru program (0.5% and 1%), aimed at supporting companies affected by the coronavirus. Additionally, BBVA's offices in Peru were used to channel the payments of the social bonus granted by the local government to the population.
From the outset, BBVA froze payments for up to six months on mortgages, consumer loans, promissory notes and corporate loans. It also launched a special line of working capital for companies totaling COL300 billion (about €70 million). The bank also sat down with its customers and clients to discuss on a case-by-case basis possible solutions to help them meet payments during the worst days of the pandemic.
In this country, BBVA launched an ARS2 billion (€29 million) line of credit for microenterprises and SMEs to purchase teleworking material, and a ARS15 billion line of financing to help meet payroll obligations. Likewise, the bank approved a refinancing scheme for unpaid credit card balances through a special 9-installment repayment loan.
In the U.S., BBVA made loan payments more flexible for companies, eliminated some fees for individuals, and approved delayed payments for consumer loans. Additionally, the entity developed a mobile 'app' in record time to manage the applications submitted by thousands of small businesses to benefit from the 'Paycheck Protection Program' rolled out by the Government to help them stay in business. The bank channeled support funds totaling an estimate $3.3 billion in less than two months.
Garanti BBVA also delayed through December 31 all loan, interest and fee payments without any penalties for individual customers. For businesses, it approved an extension of up to six months on the loan principal payments.