Financial sector offers additional support to businesses

4 February 2021 - 9 min Reading time

Banks are making extra efforts to guide healthy companies through the crisis


Earlier this week, the financial sector expressed its commitment to navigate all healthy companies with future prospects through the crisis. To reinforce this statement, the banking sector, along with the Minister of Finance, is taking additional steps to support businesses:

  • The Second Charter for payment deferral allowed businesses to obtain payment deferral for business loans until March 31, 2021. This end date is now extended to June 30, 2021. However, the application for payment deferral must still be made by the end of March. All other conditions of this charter, including the maximum payment deferral period of 9 months, remain in effect.
  • For companies that have already reached the maximum 9-month payment deferral period and are financially healthy, banks are making an extra commitment beyond the Second Charter. These companies will have the possibility to obtain additional payment deferral until June 30, 2021.
  • No administration or dossier fees will be charged.

Other solutions to support businesses will continue to be possible and will be examined on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the customer. Febelfin encourages anyone facing payment problems to promptly contact their bank to explore tailored structural solutions.


Additional payment deferral for businesses


The COVID-19 crisis has placed many businesses in severe financial difficulties. Businesses have made significant sacrifices to protect the population from the coronavirus, demonstrating great social solidarity, which deserves the utmost respect. The financial sector fully recognizes this and will continue to support businesses during this challenging economic storm, providing them with every opportunity to weather this turbulent period.

This commitment goes beyond the possibilities determined by the European Banking Authority and will be outlined in a Third Charter. To qualify for this automatic payment deferral, companies must be considered "healthy." Only such companies are eligible.

"Belgian banks are determined to provide ongoing support to the economy during these challenging times. The concerns of the business community have not fallen on deaf ears. Financial institutions, now more than ever, are solidly embracing their societal role. We aim to offer maximum assistance to our financially healthy companies facing exceptional difficulties, thereby taking responsibility in addressing this unprecedented crisis."
Karel Van Eetvelt, CEO Febelfin

Earlier this week, the financial sector pledged to guide all healthy companies with future prospects through the crisis. To reinforce this commitment, the financial sector, in collaboration with the Minister of Finance, has decided to offer additional support to businesses. The financial sector aims to assist businesses with the following extra commitments for the sake of our economic well-being.


1) Extension of the Payment Deferral Period for business loans until June 30, 2021


Banks will extend the repayment deferral for business loans by three months. This means the payment deferral can run until June 30, rather than ending on March 31, 2021. However, businesses must apply for payment deferral by the end of March. No administrative or dossier fees will be charged by the banks.

Within the framework established by the European Banking Authority, the total payment deferral for a loan cannot exceed 9 months throughout the entire period (since April 2020). For example, a business or individual that has already received an 8-month payment deferral under the terms of the First Charter for payment deferral can receive a maximum of 1 additional month of payment deferral under the terms of the Second Charter for payment deferral. The conditions of the Second Charter for payment deferral that businesses must meet remain unchanged.


2) Providing extra repayment deferral for business loans to all healthy companies that have exhausted their 9-month deferral period:


All healthy companies, regardless of the sector, that previously received a payment deferral and have reached the maximum 9-month deferral period can now request an additional repayment deferral until June 30, 2021. No administrative or dossier fees will be charged for this. This means a company can receive up to 5 additional months of payment deferral on top of the maximum 9-month period that has already been reached.

This is an unprecedented commitment by the banking sector to give all healthy companies the opportunity to overcome this crisis. Banks aim to play not only an economic but also a societal role during this crisis and are making this commitment in addition to the Second Charter.

This commitment extends beyond the possibilities defined by the European Banking Authority. All conditions associated with this commitment will be included in a Third Charter.

To qualify for this automatic payment deferral, a business must be considered "healthy." Only such businesses are eligible. For banks, it is essential to strike a balance: on one hand, they aim to provide maximum support to businesses and households during this challenging crisis, and on the other, they must fulfill their legal obligation of responsible lending and their societal duty to ensure that the savings of many are not lost.


How banks will determine if a business is healthy:


To determine whether a business can be considered healthy or not, a set of criteria has been established. These criteria will be used by the entire banking sector to assess whether a business has sufficient financial capacity.

Businesses are not considered "healthy" if, at the end of 2019, they had negative equity and met one of the following criteria:

  • The company had arrears on its current loans or with the tax or social security authorities on September 1, 2020, or the company had more than 30 days of arrears on its current loans or with the tax or social security authorities on September 30, 2020. Payment deferrals (e.g., VAT, social contributions, First Charter) granted as COVID-19 support measures are not considered arrears.
  • The company did not meet its contractual credit obligations with all banks during the last 12 months preceding August 31, 2020 (payment deferral under the First Charter is not considered a breach of contractual credit obligations) or underwent an active credit restructuring before August 31, 2020.
  • The company incurred a loss in 2019.
  • The net assets of the company are currently negative, and the company does not have the means to strengthen its capital in the short term.

Tailored individual solutions


Febelfin wants to encourage everyone experiencing potential payment issues to proactively contact their bank: discuss possible customized individual solutions in a timely manner. Don't wait until the payment deferrals expire. Together, we can search for a structural solution for your specific situation to navigate this challenging period as effectively as possible. Various options are available to offer businesses or self-employed individuals tailored solutions. Febelfin explicitly addresses businesses, urging them to initiate a conversation with their bank. Sooner rather than later.

All other forms of financing, in addition to the extra payment deferrals that banks will now provide, must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Regarding the need for additional capital, the possibility of subordinated loans through organizations such as FPIM, PMV, Sowafin, and additional equity will be explored first. Banks are ready to provide administrative support to businesses in this regard. Subsequently, banks will engage in individual discussions with the concerned clients on how to maintain liquidity at an adequate level. Addressing the need for extra capital and liquidity requires customized solutions. Therefore, it is advisable to engage in dialogue with your bank promptly to jointly seek a potential solution.




Those experiencing payment difficulties and wishing to request a payment deferral are asked to contact their bank to verify if they meet the criteria. This can be done by appointment or through the available digital channels of the bank (email, chat, mobile app, etc.), as well as by phone. Banks are actively working on the practical implementation of these measures, which may take some time and may vary from one bank to another. Entrepreneurs can reach out to their banks starting from Monday with all their inquiries.

For those who do not meet the criteria or cannot obtain further payment deferral but still face financial issues, we recommend contacting their banker as soon as possible. Together, a potential solution tailored to their specific situation can be explored. Banks are making every effort to assist their clients as effectively and promptly as possible.

All details regarding payment deferrals (up to a maximum of 9 months) can be found in the Second Charter for Business Loan Payment Deferrals. Details concerning payment deferrals extending beyond 9 months can be found in the Third Charter..