Press conference on the financial system's full support for epidemic control and production resumption

A press conference was held Saturday morning to explain the measures being taken by China's financial system to fully support control work for the COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus pneumonia) epidemic and production resumption. February 17, 2020

China Daily:

During this special period, the public have had some concerns about handling on-site financial business. Have banking and insurance institutions made any particular arrangements during this period? How can people remain safe when they need to handle financial and insurance business on site? Thank you.

Liang Tao:

Faced by the sudden epidemic risk, we do have many concerns about handling business on site. To deal with this situation, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) has motivated banking and insurance institutions to strive to meet the needs of society for financial services using innovative ways. We have mainly taken the following measures:

Firstly, we have arranged for sites to operate in a reasonable manner to ensure the general public's need for basic financial services. All banking and insurance institutions, in accordance with the needs of epidemic prevention and control, should reasonably arrange their work and opening hours of their business locations. They should notify the public in advance as to which sites have been temporarily closed or have adjusted business hours, and proactively recommend the nearest locations that are open normally. In addition, all banking and insurance institutions must thoroughly clean and disinfect their premises by increasing the frequency of disinfection of cash counters, ATM machines and self-service terminals, and maintain the self-service equipment in a timely manner to ensure their safe, efficient and constant operation.

Secondly, we have guided institutions to maintain the smooth operation of their online business. We have led banking and insurance institutions to strengthen the promotion and function optimization of cellphone banking, online banking, WeChat banking, cloud payment platforms and other online products, providing customers with 24/7 online financial services, so as to minimize the frequency of offline contact, reduce the risk of epidemic infection, and achieve the goal of providing financial services at home. Some banks have substantially increased the scale of online financing, and encouraged their customers to apply for, use and repay loans, as well as carry out online transfers, payments, balance inquiries, reconciliation, receipt printing, payroll and other businesses, to reduce the risk of unnecessary cross-infection. According to statistics from the China Banking Association, during the recent period, the average service replacement rate of online business of banking institutions has reached 96%. All insurance institutions have also actively developed and promoted online underwriting, renewal, preservation and claim services via cellphone apps and WeChat public accounts, aiming to provide customers a one-stop service with zero contact, zero distance and zero risk. Insurance staff should help their customers complete their car insurance renewal, preservation and claims through online services, and encourage them to experience a whole new online one-to-one service.

Thirdly, we have enhanced personal financial services. Many banks have released preferential policies targeting medical staff and personnel who have taken part in the epidemic control and prevention. Those with overdue personal loans or credit card debt during the epidemic will not be treated as having defaulted or included on the list of defaulters, so as to strengthen protection of their credit. As for clients who lost income sources due to the epidemic, banks will flexibly adjust repayment schedules of their housing mortgage and credit cards and postpone the time limits appropriately. As for clients who have been infected by COVID-19 or suffered losses due to the epidemic, all insurance institutions should instantly settle claims and compensate appropriately, expand liabilities, incorporate COVID-19 pneumonia into insurance coverage and remove any restrictions on the waiting period, deductibles, payment ratios and designated hospitals. 

Fourth, we have opened-up "green channels" for epidemic-related businesses. All banks and insurance institutions opened "green channels" in the fight against the epidemic and prioritize services such as donations, fund remittances and transfers to the areas affected by the epidemic. If institutions or individuals apply for urgent cash withdrawal services, the banks should handle them instantly and in a rapid manner. If customers have special needs regarding handling business at certain places, the banks should offer services by visiting them. Service charges should be canceled on donations to specific accounts dealing with epidemic control or remittance and transfer of funds for this purpose.

Thank you.

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