The banking industry through the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) has adopted Guidelines towards ensuring the safety and security of bank customers, employees and other stakeholders during this unprecedented time when the country responds to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). These standards are informed by global best practice and have been developed in consultation with Ministry of Health and Amref Health Africa (Amref) to ensure the wellbeing of Kenyans.
Furthermore, in conjunction with the Central Bank of Kenya, banks have come together to adopt measures that will help cushion the banking public. Banks are putting in place the modalities to implement these timely measures, which we believe give our customers reassurance and a level of stability as we all come to terms with how COVID-19 will impact our lives. These measures were announced on 18 March 2020 by the Central Bank of Kenya and banks have already began adjusting their systems and working to deliver on the commitment with an aim to be 100 percent compliant as soon as possible.
Relief on Loans
Banks recognise that households and businesses have already been impacted and will continue to be affected as the National Government introduces COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as social distancing. Business clients in certain industries will experience a marked decline in commercial activity and as such will need their financiers, including banks, to work with them during this difficult time. Banks therefore will assist clients who have directly been affected by COVID-19, and whose loan repayments were up to date as at 2 March 2020. Relief to borrowers will include extensions in repayment periods (loan tenor) and other restructuring arrangements. Customers are encouraged to speak to their bankers about how COVID-19 has affected their employment or business operations.
Use of Digital Banking Channels
KBA encourages banks and the banking public to go cash light through the use of debit cards, mobile banking, and internet banking. To facilitate increased use of mobile or digital platforms, all charges for transfers between mobile money wallets and bank accounts have been removed for 90 days. With access to numerous digital banking options, we hope to reduce instances of customers, staff and suppliers coming into contact with COVID-19 within our branches.
We Remain Open to Serve
Banks have operated in this country for over a century and over time we have witnessed many industry, economic and national events that have strained our system but ultimately result in a stronger and more committed banking industry. We are here to serve our fellow Kenyans and we couldn’t be more dedicated to the national call to action that we must together overcome the COVID-19 threat. Towards this end, we will remain open and ready to serve you. Our staff are being trained, and our branches are being fitted with hand sanitizers. High-touch areas within our branches and offices will be sanitized regularly for your safety and comfort. There are several other measures banks are working on in consultation with health experts. We do ask that you follow guidance you are given by staff in branches during this period, including regarding the 1 meter or 3 feet social distancing guidance.
Unfortunately, perpetrators of fraud will take advantage of this unsettling time to gain access to bank customers’ information and accounts through COVID-19 related scams. Every year, the banking industry conducts a Kaa Chonjo safety awareness campaign and we urge Kenyans to refer to these materials so as to refresh themselves on how to prevent cyber fraud, such as email scams or phishing. Customers should never click on links within emails from unverified sources, never respond to unsolicited SMS messages, and never provide their financial information to unverified callers.
Finally, as Kenyans, we are all concerned with the health and safety of our families and our communities. We see in the news and on social media how COVID-19 is affecting people around the world and we anticipate what will unfold. The banking industry is sound and stable, and we assure you that we will do everything we can to support our customers and protect our employees. Pamoja tutamaliza coronavirus.
Chairman, Kenya Bankers Association
Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, KCB