Following the issue by the European Banking Authority (EBA) on April 2 of guidelines on public and private moratoria on loan operations in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic (EBA/GL/2020/02), Associação Portuguesa de Bancos (APB Portuguese Banking Association) began drafting an interbank protocol, with a view to defining general, transversal, harmonised conditions for private moratoria, which could be afforded similar prudential and accounting treatment to that allowed for legislative moratoria. 

This process, in the course of which the Competition Authority was consulted, resulted in the signing of a protocol. Its annexes define the general conditions for two private moratoria, both of which are for natural persons, who may be residents or non-residents in Portugal. One covers non-mortgage loans (e.g. personal or car loans) and the other mortgage loans.

The protocol, which was signed late yesterday afternoon by the banks that are members of the APB Board1 and have committed to making the two types of moratorium available to their customers, is also open to other APB member and non-member credit institutions that have their headquarters or a branch office in Portugal. Any other banks that subscribe to the protocol will be able to offer their customers both types of moratorium, or just one.

The concrete terms for processing and implementing the moratoria will be defined by each institution. They will also define the response times, which will depend, amongst other factors, on the volume of requests for moratoria submitted by customers.

This sector-specific initiative comes in addition and is complementary to the legislative moratorium instituted by Decree-Law 10-J/2020 of 26 March and demonstrates the banks’ firm commitment to providing greater support and helping to mitigate the effects of COVID- 19 on families.

Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus crisis, banks have been adopting measures to support families and companies. These measures have included reductions in and exemptions from fees on certain services (e.g. transfers, cards or POS automatic payment terminals), for temporary relief of liquidity needs, through moratoria and the granting of funding, particularly for those companies and business sectors most affected by the current situation. This will enable them to maintain their production capacity and guarantee faster economic recovery.

The institutions will apply the measures announced today on the basis of the terms of their adherence/subscription to this protocol, though this does not affect their freedom to offer different conditions or solutions to their customers.

1Banco BPI, S.A., Banco Comercial Português, S.A., Banco de Investimento Global, S.A., Banco Montepio, Banco Santander Totta, S.A., Caixa Central - Caixa Central de Crédito Agrícola Mútuo, CRL, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, S.A., Novo Banco, S.A.