Belgians adjust payment behavior and receive payment deferrals for mortgage loans more than 100,000 times

8 May 2020 - 4 min Reading time

Banks continue to support consumers and private individuals

  • Two clear financial trends are emerging during the corona crisis:
    • Belgians adjust payment behavior;
    • The crisis has a significant impact on the finances of many people: requests for payment deferrals continue to rise.
  • The decline in the number of card payments at a physical point of sale is less noticeable than the decline in cash withdrawals: this indicates that people currently prefer to pay for their purchases digitally.
  • Contactless payments see a boost after increasing limits: 29% of all card payments are made contactless.
  • From May 11, 2020, quarantine measures will be relaxed and all stores will open their doors again. Febelfin calls for continued payments digitally (via card and smartphone) as much as possible. Digital payment - and certainly contactless -  is by far the most hygienic and safest way to pay.
  • The financial sector continues to fully support consumers, companies and self-employed people who are under financial pressure due to the corona crisis. On the one hand, by granting payment deferrals (consumers, companies and self-employed people) on existing credits, and on the other hand, by granting new credits (companies).
    • Banks granted payment deferrals for mortgage loans more than 107,000 times.
    • For companies, that figure is currently more than 116,000 payment deferrals. In addition, more than 20,000 new loans were granted for an amount of more than 4.5 billion euros in April.

Banks support the economy in these difficult times


The banks continue to fully support consumers, companies and self-employed people who are under financial pressure due to the corona crisis. For example, in the last five weeks - since the charter came into effect on March 31, 2020 - they granted more than 107,000 payment deferrals to private individuals for their mortgage loans. The total underlying credit volume amounts to 11 billion euros or an average of 102,500 euros per loan.

They have also granted more than 116,000 deferrals of payment for business loans since March 31. This concerns a total underlying credit volume of 18 billion euros or an average of 153,000 per credit. More than 80% of the number of payment deferrals are granted to SMEs and the self-employed.

In addition, the banks supported the Belgian economy by granting 4.5 billion in new loans since the beginning of April. They helped many entrepreneurs keep their heads above water. They achieved this by providing 20,800 new loans to companies (with and without a state guarantee). 17,879 loans were granted to SMEs (including the self-employed) and 2,898 loans to large companies.

De kredietverlening is in maart en april 2020 in vergelijking met vorig jaar stabiel gebleven.

Together with entrepreneurs, the banks examine the current situation, the evolution and the consequences of this crisis. When granting new loans, they look at each application individually. We note that the historical approval rate of approximately 95% continues to apply in current corona circumstances.

The figures on payment deferrals and new loans indicate that the banks are responding to Minister of Finance Alexander De Croo's call to keep the credit tap open for those who are in danger of financial difficulties due to the corona crisis. The financial sector wants to continue to play its role in the economy, even - and especially - in these exceptional times.

Anyone experiencing financial problems due to the corona crisis is asked to contact their bank as soon as possible. The appropriate solutions can be found together.

Belgians pay more digitally


To contain the spread of the coronavirus, traders and banks are asking for digital payments as much as possible. Paying by card and smartphone is therefore an extremely safe and hygienic way to pay for purchases, especially if it is done contactless. Belgians have now adjusted their payment behavior accordingly.

The share of contactless card payments has increased enormously. Since the limits were increased on April 14, more than 1 in 4 card payments (29%) have been processed contactless. This represents a doubling compared to February of this year (16%).

Because a number of stores have been closed so far during the corona crisis, the total number of card payments made in a physical point of sale decreased. However, the decline in the number of cash withdrawals continued even more strongly. This seems to indicate that Belgians currently use their cards more often than pay in cash. Febelfin is calling on people to continue paying digitally (via card and smartphone) as much as possible, especially when all shops are allowed to open their doors again from May 11.