Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai banks have come together to offer a comprehensive relief package to help their customers ease financial pressures in the current economic environment caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The measures announced by the banks seek to support the UAE Government and the UAE Central Bank six-month economic stimulus package and the Dubai Government three-month economic stimulus package to support the business sector in the UAE and Dubai. Leading Dubai banks that have joined the effort to provide relief to their customers include Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Islamic, Mashreq and Commercial Bank of Dubai.
Measures by commercial banks with effect from 1 April to 30 June, 2020 (Emirates NBD, Mashreq and Commercial Bank of Dubai).
-Retail loan customers who have been placed on unpaid leave by their employers can approach the bank for repayment holiday of up to three months with zero interest and fees.
-Customers who have availed personal loans, auto loans or mortgages can apply for a one-month repayment holiday with zero fees.
-All first time home buyers can benefit from a 5% increase in the Loan-to-Value ratio (LTV) and full waiver of processing fees.
-A refund of charges on cash withdrawals done using debit cards on all ATMs of other banks across the UAE.
-Credit card customers can benefit from interest-free installment plans for all school fee payments as well as grocery purchases with no processing fees for up to 6 months. This is in addition to existing attractive low interest, installment plans available for higher tenors across all retail purchases.
-Customers who may need to cancel their travel bookings done on their credit and debit cards will receive a refund of the foreign currency transaction fees charged by the bank.
-Customers using credit cards for cash withdrawals will enjoy 50% reduction in the cash advance charges.
Small Business Customers:
-Small business customers who have availed merchant loans, equipment loans or business vehicle loans and have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 situation, can apply for a repayment holiday of 3 months with zero interest and fees.
-Reduction of the monthly minimum balance required for basic business banking account to AED 10,000. Also the minimum balance charges for the basic business banking account will be waived for a period of 3 months.
-Business Banking customers with working capital facilities who are impacted by the ongoing Covid 19 situation are encouraged to contact their respective relationship managers to achieve an optimal financial solution.
Wholesale Banking Clients:
Relief measures prioritise key industry sectors contributing to the UAE economy that have been most affected in the current situation, including healthcare, aviation, hospitality, retail, event management, consumer goods and education, by offering refinancing, repayment deferrals or lower repayments where required.
-Reduced bank charges for digital trade transactions for all trade finance customers. Customers using the digital platforms are offered a significant reduction in transaction processing and handling fees and new activations at zero cost for the next three months.
-The banks are also providing their customers with enhanced credit and trade lines to manage ongoing operational costs.
-The banks have announced support for affected customers trading in the UAE bourses by offering suitable instalment payment plans against additional collateral to help them regularise their margin trading positions.
-Respective Relationship Managers will continue to work alongside and support customers faced with margin calls on their share portfolios.
-Measures by Islamic Banks with effect from 1 April to 30 June, 2020 (Dubai Islamic Bank and Emirates Islamic).
Individual Customers and Cardholders:
-Customers who have availed personal finance, auto finance or mortgages can apply for a one-month repayment holiday with zero fees Debit Cardholders can now withdraw cash for free from any other Banks’ ATMs in the UAE.
-Customers using credit cards for cash withdrawals will enjoy 50% reduction in the cash advance charges.
-Credit Cardholders can avail 0% Easy Payment Plans (EPP) on school fee transactions with zero processing fee.
-Credit Cardholders can benefit from special pricing on EPP & Cash on Call, and 0% on Balance Transfers.
-Cardholders can request refunds on foreign currency charges related to Travel/Hotel cancellations.
Customers with Existing and New Finance Facilities:
-Financially impacted customers (unpaid leave, other valid reasons) can request up to 3 deferred monthly installments without fees and profit charges.
-Debt consolidation solution can be provided upon request.
-Finance to property value for first-time home buyers increased by 5% (up to 85% for UAE Nationals & up to 80% for Expatriates).
Priority Banking Customers:
-Priority Banking Relationship Managers are always available to support customers.
-Margin Calls for customers trading on stock market: The two banks will work alongside and support those who are faced with margin calls on their shares portfolio. The two banks encourage members facing this situation to get in touch with their Relationship Managers to discuss and agree on optimal solutions.
Business Banking Customers:
-Digital Account Package: Waiver of minimum balance fee for maintaining a minimum balance requirement of AED 10,000, until 30 June 2020.
-Deferment of three months instalment upon request for clients with a Business Finance facility.
-Commercial Banking customers with Finance facilities from the two banks and whose businesses are affected by the current situation, can contact their Relationship Manager, to discuss restructuring solutions.
-Customers can benefit from all the advanced features of the two banks’ digital platforms at discounted rates.
Wholesale Banking customers:
-Customers with working capital facilities who are impacted by the ongoing Covid19 situation are encouraged to contact their respective relationship managers to achieve an optimal solution.
-Relief measures will support key sectors affected by the Covid 19 situation by offering need-based refinancing, repayment deferrals or lower repayments where required.
-Reduced charges for digital trade transactions for all trade finance customers. Customers using the digital platforms can get a significant reduction in transaction processing and handling fees and new digital platforms activations at zero cost for the next three months.
-Customers will also be encouraged to use the two banks’ digital platforms for their Cash Management needs at considerably reduced charges.
Sheikh Ahmed further said: “These are exceptional times and we have gathered together the combined strength of our leadership, management teams and our employees to create unprecedented and additional measures to support those affected. We were among the first to recognise the needs of our customers, and the measures we are announcing today will supplement the reduced fees and charges we already put in place for Corporate Banking customers two weeks ago.”
“Our leaders have led the way with unity, strength and compassion and I firmly believe that this situation will bring us all closer together. We would like to reassure our customers that they can continue to bank with us safely through our pioneering digital banking solutions. I am confident that the measures we have put in place, combined with our proven expertise in digital banking, financial strength and liquidity will help us continue delivering on our promise of superior customer service during this extraordinary time,” he concluded.
Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Director-General of His Highness The Ruler’s Court of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank, said: “In these unprecedented times, strong and decisive actions are critical to sustain the economy. Led by the example set by the leadership of the UAE, and the timely and precise financial relief package unveiled by the regulator, we, at DIB are prepared to act quickly and effectively to ensure that our customers are fully supported in this period and the economic burden created by the COVID-19 outbreak is minimised as far as possible. In this respect, we have taken steps to ensure both physical and financial health and security of our entire client base and assure everyone that we remain committed to the UAE and all its residents as a trusted and reliable financial partner.”
Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim, Chairman of Emirates Islamic said: “We are grateful for the trust our clients and teams place in us during this exceptional situation. Emirates Islamic is ready to continue to serve our customers with the full strength of our organisation’s dedicated leadership, management and wider team, and we will continue to create meaningful additional measures to support those affected. We remain proactive through this rapidly evolving period and are among the first in the Islamic banking sector to recognise the needs of our customers.”
“Emirates Islamic’s relief measures reinforce the plans that have already been put in place by our nation’s wise leadership to keep the UAE safe and prosperous. The incredible guidance and example set by our leaders show us the way forward with unity, strength and compassion. I am certain this challenge will encourage us all to support one another. We would also like to reassure our customers that they can continue to bank with us safely through our convenient digital banking solutions. Our proactive measures, combined with our digital banking expertise, financial strength and liquidity, give us confidence to continue serving you with the same high standards you are accustomed to from us,” added Al Qassim.
Chairman of Commercial Bank of Dubai Humaid Al Qutami, stated: “In these challenging times, like in the past 50 years, CBD stands by its customers. Our measures, which are fully aligned with the guidance of the government and the Central Bank of the UAE, will ensure our clients will continue to operate successfully. The combination of deferring payments, reducing or waiving selected fees, and supporting those whose jobs have been affected will enable corporations and individuals throughout the UAE to weather these unprecedented challenges. We encourage our customers to reach out to us, preferably through our award-winning digital channels, to utilise the measures implemented today.”
Specific measures announced by Commercial Bank of Dubai include providing easy instalment plans for school fees and other essential expenditure at no fees; facilitating home buyers by reducing the required down payment and waiving select fees; and offering SME accounts with no requirement for a minimum balance at no additional fees.
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Mashreq Bank said: “Mashreq Bank is pleased to be part of the consortium leading this important and significant initiative supporting the UAE’s businesses, consumers and communities and aimed at alleviating some of the financial pressure and potential negative impact resulting from the COVID-19 situation.
“As one of the UAE’s oldest banks, we have a proud legacy of supporting the nation and those who live and do business here. We fully recognize the importance of assisting our customers, businesses and communities in these challenging times through these relief measures and we place the highest priority on ensuring the welfare and happiness of the society and all those living in the country.”
“In accordance with this announcement, banks will show more flexibility to stressed customers during this difficult time and support its retail, SME and corporate customers through several specific initiatives targeted at reducing their financial burdens. This is also in line with the UAE’s leadership and their efforts to support the UAE banking sector which in turn will have far reaching positive impact on various sectors that underpin the economy. This relief package will also reduce the risk many customers face of being exposed to temporary cash flow shortfalls during this trying period.”
“Our key priority is the safety and well-being of our people, our customers and our community. Mashreq is operating according to the highest safety and security standard to keep our clients’ businesses running smoothly and without unnecessary disruptions globally – whether our employees are operating from home or other office locations. We are ready to cater to the financial needs of our customers and partners with the same superior levels of quality and service we have always provided across our available channels,” Al Ghurair added.
The Dubai banks have also announced that all their branches continue to remain open to serve customers. The banks have undertaken precautionary measures across their branch network, ATM & cash deposit machine locations, including additional deep cleaning and sterilisation protocols. Furthermore, they have implemented training on safety guidelines, social interaction and preventative hygiene practices for all frontline staff.
The banks are also encouraging customers to bank safely via their digital banking platforms. Customers practicing social distancing can carry out everyday transactions such as making transfers, remitting funds or paying bills conveniently via the Mobile Banking Apps or Online Banking platforms.