Unicaja Banco has been promoting a set of measures since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis to support its customers and to ensure their safety and also that of its employees. The bank continues with its financial activity through its different channels, as an essential community service under the current state of alarm, and it focus its effort in the launch of flexible payment and funding solutions for its customers, especially for those in a situation of vulnerability, under the priority of ensuring service and protecting the health of employees and customers.
In line with the healthcare recommendations, the bank encourages and promotes the use of electronic resources and channels such as ATMs, digital banking (web and app) or card payment, in addition to customer service over the phone and through its social media profiles. Unicaja Banco has also activated a prevention and action plan, as well as a permanent follow-up committee, in compliance with the authorities’ recommendations.
No fees at ATMs to withdraw cash and flexibility in means of payment
Unicaja Banco doesn't charge any fee for withdrawing cash on debit at any ATM of the national territory during the state of alarm, as it has joined the initiative launched by CECA. The goal of this measure is to allow customers who need to withdraw cash to got to the closest ATM to their homes, regardless of the bank they belong to, thus reducing travels.
In addition to this initiative, the contactless payment limit in cards and contactless devices has been temporarily increased from 20 to 50 euros, in order to reduce the transactions where it is necessary to enter the PIN number.
Support to individuals
Furthermore, Unicaja Banco has brought forward, for the third consecutive month, the payment of pensions and unemployment benefits to contribute to mitigate the consequences of the health crisis on those in a situation of vulnerability.
In particular, as support to the elderly, a risk group in this situation of global pandemic, Unicaja Banco has advanced the payment of pensions, at no cost for customers, through branches and ATMs. Additionally, to protect their health, the bank has contacted pensioners to inform them of the different options they have available (ATMs, card payment or use of digital channels) and to offer them a better service through the arrangement of prior appointments to be attended at branches.
The bank has also advanced the payment of the unemployment benefits, with a view to reducing the social and economic impact that this crisis is having on the most vulnerable.
In addition, Unicaja Banco advances from Monday 18 May the payment of the new unemployment benefits to those furloughed under a temporary labour force adjustment plan (ERTE) due to the situation caused by the Covid-19. The bank has adopted this measure joining the agreement signed on 7 May between the banking associations CECA, AEB and UNACC, the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy and the State Public Employment Service (SEPE), under which the participating banks may advance the payment of the unemployment allowances recognized by the SEPE to those affected by an ERTE.
Likewise, the bank is applying the actions adopted by the Government, such as the moratorium on the payment of mortgages of the main residence, and other loans, for those in a situation of vulnerability. As reinforcement to this measure, Unicaja Banco is providing its support to those people undergoing economic difficulties caused by this crisis, and it is offering measures adapted to each particular case, to facilitate the repayment of loans (extended terms, interest-only periods or flexibilization in repayment conditions).
As a reinforcement of those measures, Unicaja Banco also offers the sectorial moratorium on mortgages and personal loans, within the framework of the sectorial agreement on deferral of financing transactions for customers affected by the coronavirus crisis, approved by CECA, and which it has joined. So, in addition to the measures adopted by the Government regarding the mortgage and non-mortgage loan moratorium, the sectorial moratorium applied by the bank considers other cases for granting a debt holiday or deferral under certain conditions on the debt arising from mortgage and non-mortgage loans.
It also gives the holders of life and accident insurance the possibility of splitting the payment of insurance premiums at no cost. In addition to this measure, Unicorp Vida (owned by Santalucia and Unicaja Banco, 50% each) and Unión Duero Vida (100% owned by Unicaja Banco) have adhered to the agreement promoted by the association Unespa to create a solidarity fund to offer a collective life policy to the health workers fighting the pandemic.
Exemption from the payment of half of the rent to FSV housing
With a view to mitigating the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on those in a situation of vulnerability, Unicaja Banco exempts from the payment of half of the rent to the holders of lease agreements of properties integrated in the Social Housing Fund (Fondo Social de Vivienda, FSV). The bank will apply this measure in the rent of Arpil and will continue to do so while the state of alarm declared by the Government is in force.
The 50% reduction in the rent of the lease agreements integrated in the FSV, without tenants having to apply for it, is being communicated to tenants and could be applied for up to four months. This measure falls within the exercise by Unicaja Banco of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Furthermore, for the rest of rental housing units that Unicaja Banco has got, the bank applies the measures approved by the Government, such as the moratorium or the reduction, while the state of alarm is in force, in the rent of main residences. For that purpose, tenants must submit the corresponding application and must meet the requirements sent in the Royal-Decree Law 11/2020
Unicaja Banco works to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis on those people in a situation of vulnerability, not only with measures to help improve their economies, but also with actions like the donation of toys to children in foster homes and tablets for the elderly in nursing homes, or collaborating with organizations like the Banco de Alimentos de la Costa del Sol (Bancosol) to respond to the needs of families at risk of social exclusion.
In collaboration with the Instituto Andaluz de la Mujer (IAM, Andalusia Institute for Women), of the Consejería de Igualdad, Políticas Sociales y Conciliación, and with the company Andaluza de Gestión de Servicios Especializados (Agise), Unicaja Banco has promoted the donation of toys to 120 children in foster homes.
Furthermore, the institution has donated electronic tablets to several nursing homes in Andalusia, of the organization Edad Dorada-Mensajeros de la Paz Andalucía. The goal of this action is to facilitate the communication of the elderly with their families during the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
Unicaja Banco has also collaborated with Banco de Alimentos de la Costa del Sol (Bancosol, Food Bank of Costa del Sol) in the Virtual Food Collection organized on 10 and 11 April to assist the most disadvantaged families.
Support to businesses
With regard to the support to freelancers and businesses, the bank facilitates measures to allow flexibilization in financing conditions (extended terms, interest-only periods or flexibilization in repayment conditions in general), which are adapted to each particular case. Likewise, it offers funding under the ICO facility of public guarantees approved by the Government.
Additionally, in Andalusia, Unicaja Banco also offers funding under the public guarantee facility Liquidez Garántia Covid-19, approved by the Junta de Andalucía and aimed to SMEs and freelancers to contribute to the reduction of the economic impact of the health crisis.
This line is instrumented through Garántia, Sociedad de Avales y Garantías de Andalucía, and falls within the general agreement that the latter has with Unicaja Banco. It is also part of the bank’s commitment to support the business sector.
The guarantee facility managed by Agencia IDEA, dependent on the Andalusian government, adds up to this line. In Castilla y Leon, Unicaja banco has joined the liquidity measures created by the Junta through Iberaval and the Instituto para la Competitividad Empresarial.
Actions in means of payments for shops
Unicaja Banco also supports shops through the adoption of measures as the temporary waiver of maintenance fees for physical POS terminals and facilities for remote processing. The bank offers the possibility of requesting virtual POS as means of payment. Another adopted measure is the availability, for certain shops, of payment by e-mail through virtual POS.
With regard to GPRS POS, Unicaja Banco is giving priority to their installation in essential service shops, such as gas stations, pharmacies, supermarkets, grocery stores, take-away, dry cleaners and tobacco shops.
Unicaja Banco is also supporting farmers with different measures, especially in the current situation derived from the Covid-19, with farming deemed as a strategic sector. The bank continues processing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) dossiers, and given the health crisis scenario, the European Union has extended the term to file the dossiers until 15 June. It has also established two lines of pre-approved loans for a total amount of over €900 million: 342 for the CAP and 600 for the intensive cultivation campaign.
For the present campaign, Unicaja Banco offers its customers the possibility of receiving the amount in advance with loans, as well as personalized management and processing of their application dossiers. In particular, the bank has enabled a pre-approved loan facility for customers based in Andalusia, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura.
Reinforced prevention protocols at branches
As for the network of branches, the bank has activated a reinforced prevention protocol and it has increased the hygiene and cleaning measures, including ATMs, as well as the installation of protective screens and signaling bands, and the maintenance of a preventive distance of two metres, as the main measures to protect customers and employees.
To protect its customers and to inform them of the fight against cybercrime, which has increased since the beginning of the crisis, Unicaja Banco has proactively communicated different recommendations, such as disregarding e-mails requesting confidential information and asking to carry out any action related to personal data, cards or bank accounts. Customers are encouraged to report to the bank immediately if they are told that there is a possibility that they have their cards blocked or cancelled. Unicaja Banco reminds that it never asks customers to provide by phone or by e-mail their access passwords, account numbers or credit or debit card numbers.