After 1 week, banks have assisted 86,000 individuals and businesses with a payment deferral totaling 1 billion euros

Stay up to date with the latest measures from the financial sector

5 min Reading time

The coronavirus crisis is not only a humanitarian crisis but also delivers an economic blow to citizens and businesses. Banks are doing their utmost to provide assistance. They are working hard to alleviate the most pressing needs while also focusing on their stability and resilience in the long term. Within one week, Belgian banks have granted payment deferrals to over 46,000 corporate loans. Banks have also provided payment deferrals to 40,000 individuals for their home mortgages. This action has injected an additional 1 billion euros of breathing space into our economy.


The coronavirus crisis has shaken our society to its core. These are challenging times marked by fear, uncertainty, and sorrow. Banks wish to express their sympathy to everyone who has been affected, whether closely or from afar.

The financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis are unprecedented. Currently, Belgium has 1.25 million people in a system of temporary unemployment, with 70% of their salaries maintained, according to the latest figures from Minister of Labor Nathalie Muylle. A survey by the National Bank reveals that Belgian businesses are experiencing an average one-third decrease in revenue.

Belgian banks fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation and are doing everything within their power to assist as many individuals and businesses as possible during this challenging period. In recent years, banks have worked diligently to establish a solid foundation and build the necessary buffers to withstand crises. Today, banks continue to keep the future in mind, ensuring that they can provide the necessary loans in the coming years, in accordance with their societal role.

The societal role of banks


The role and purpose of banks can be summarized in three sentences. By converting savings into loans, banks help people realize their dreams, such as buying their own home. Banks also utilize entrusted funds to assist businesses with investments. A third core task of banks is to securely preserve the saved resources for times when things are not going well. It is evident that we are currently in such a period.

A necessary balance


For banks, it is essential to maintain the correct balance between, on the one hand, the desire to assist as many individuals and businesses as possible who are currently facing financial difficulties and, on the other hand, the need to remain a sufficiently safe and robust haven for the safe management of the savings entrusted to them. Customers rightfully rely on this, both in good and bad times.

The financial sector has already taken the necessary measures to aid individuals and businesses. In doing so, the sector has fully fulfilled its fundamental tasks.

How do banks assist consumers?


Repayments of home mortgages significantly impact family income, typically accounting for about a quarter of the available monthly budget. If the household income decreases due to factors like a period of unemployment, it becomes challenging to make these repayments. Individuals who meet certain conditions are entitled to a deferment of up to six months for their mortgage payments.

Initial figures indicate that customers have reached out to banks for assistance. Now that the systems are in place and all office staff have been fully informed, the processing at the banks is running smoothly.

As of April 8th, Belgian banks had assisted 40,000 individuals with the deferment of their mortgage payments.

It's important to note that consumers can still submit requests in the coming months. Banks are ready to process these applications as quickly as possible.

How do banks assist businesses?


Banks are also aiding businesses and self-employed individuals facing payment difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. For companies in need of new additional loans, a guarantee scheme has been developed in collaboration with the government, providing a total guarantee of 50 billion euros.

Viable businesses and self-employed individuals can also receive a deferral of capital payments for their existing loans until October 31, 2020, without incurring any costs. However, companies are still required to pay interest during this deferral of capital payments. There are three reasons why interest payments have not been suspended:

  1. In the current low-interest rate environment, the share of interest in the total repayment amount is limited. It is primarily the deferral of capital repayment that provides additional breathing space for the company.
  2. This approach ensures that interest payments remain tax-deductible for the companies in question.
  3. When considering businesses, liquidity issues are approached from a different perspective. Starting from the functioning of a company, all various loans and other sources of financing are reevaluated as a whole and, if necessary, completely restructured. In these reorganizations, interest expenses are usually not the determining factor; capital repayments are.

Further cooperation is essential


The end of the COVID-19 crisis is not yet in sight, but banks are prepared to continue supporting the economy with combined efforts. Collaboration is crucial, and everyone must contribute their share in solidarity. Only through joint efforts of all societal actors can we overcome this unprecedented crisis.