In the wake of uncertainty about the Coronavirus outbreak, banks and credit unions are taking proactive measures to protect and educate their customers and members about what to expect, how to operate and how to minimize financial impact.
To help keep you informed about what bank and credit unions leaders have been sharing, we've gathered this week's top headlines on how the financial institution industry is managing the fallout from the global health crisis.
Bank and Credit Union Announcements about Coronavirus
Johns Hopkins' popular COVID-19 dashboard has been a go-to source for people who want to stay up to date on the virus, reports American Banker. Fraudsters also found a way to exploit this resource as part of a phishing scam.
American Banker reports: "Researchers at Malwarebytes discovered a malicious program, Corona-Virus-Map.com, that claims to provide an up-to-date coronavirus map just like the one at Johns Hopkins. It produces a map that looks exactly like the university’s graphic. But the software has embedded malware called corona.exe that’s a variant of AzorUlt, a type of spyware that steals usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and other data stored in the user’s browser...According to PCRisk.com, the Corona-Virus-Map.com Trojan is distributed through infected email attachments, malicious online ads, social engineering and software vulnerabilities." Read more.
Need a quick recap of how you can manage your member impact? The Cooperative Credit Union Association hosted a webinar this week with more than 200 credit union professionals from 90 credit unions in attendance. This webinar focused on growing health and business effects of the coronavirus and how credit unions can manage those challenges.
“As credit unions weigh the information and make decisions about travel, meetings and sick time for employees, they are also considering the impact of COVID-19 on their ability to efficiently, effectively and safely serve their members,” the CCUA reported in its Daily Scan newsletter to members. Listen to the full webinar here.
CUNA wrote a letter to NCUA this week asking it to consider several steps to alleviate the financial strain and consumer disruption being caused by the coronavirus.
“We anticipate the challenges facing credit unions and their members will get worse before they get better, as it is clear we are in the early stages of this public health issue,” the letter reads. “The coronavirus has already and will continue to strain the broader economy. However, as often in the time of such challenges, there is an opportunity for credit unions to exemplify pro-consumer financial services.” Read more.
President Trump met with the heads of three major banking trade groups and representatives of the nation’s largest banks to discuss how to handle the economic impact of the coronavirus. Read the full transcript of the conversation here.
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council released a 10-page interagency statement recommending steps banks should take to proactively prevent disruption of operations, minimize contact between staff and customers, and plan for how affected employees reenter the workplace, among other things. The guidance came after lawmakers had urged regulators to give banks clarity on how they should work out loans with businesses and consumers who may be affected by the coronavirus. Read more.
Regulators on Monday urged banks to make sure “customers and members” impacted by the disease get the funding they need. “Regulators note that financial institutions should work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities,” the statement said. “Prudent efforts that are consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism.” Read more.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread, credit unions are taking steps to ensure staff and members remain safe while still being able to serve members. Credit unions across the country have alerted members about their efforts to increase cleaning and disinfecting at branches, and limit physical contact. They’re also urging members to consider using alternative methods to access the credit union without going to a branch, such as online or mobile banking or the contact center. Read more.
Christiane Gigi Hyland, Executive Director at National Credit Union Foundation, shared her insights on what Credit Union leaders can do during the Coronavirus outbreak to help its members minimize impact. "Credit unions should consider helping members with financial arrangements that ease the blow of this potential dip in income. Skip-a-pay programs, lowered payments for a defined time, financial counseling and 0% short term loans can all be powerful tools to just help people get by," she writes. Read more.
Banking Agencies Encourage Financial Institutions to Meet Financial Needs of Customers and Members Affected by Coronavirus
The Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and Conference of State Bank Supervisors issued a rare joint statement encouraging financial institutions to meet the financial needs of customers and members affected by COVID-19.
In the statement, the agencies pledged to “provide appropriate regulatory assistance to affected institutions subject to their supervision.” In this regard, the agencies indicated that “In cases in which operational challenges persist, regulators will expedite, as appropriate, any request to provide more convenient availability of services in affected communities. The regulators also will work with affected financial institutions in scheduling examinations or inspections to minimize disruption and burden.” The agencies also instructed financial institutions to “work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities” and, notably, indicated that “prudent efforts that are consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism.” Read more. Read more.
Contactless payments popularity may surge faster than anticipated due to health concerns, according to new survey data from payments research company, The Futurist Group. The data indicated that an increasing number of consumers are shifting their view about contactless payments as being more of a necessity. Prior to Coronavirus' spread, 41% said they didn't need contactless payments; that figure quickly dropped to 33% by March 3. Those indicating they need contactless payments rose 8% during that same timeframe to 38%.
“While this is early data, and more time is needed to assess the real and lasting impact on consumer behavior, this is an indication that the tipping point for contactless usage in the U.S. may arrive faster than anticipated,” The Futurist Group said. “In this moment in time, issuers must increase awareness of the contactless feature on their cards,” it said. “Targeted marketing efforts must go beyond explaining the functionality and instead educate consumers about all benefits that contactless can offer. Responsible communication should prioritize those who are at the highest risk for infection.” Read more.