Banks here extend aid for retail, business customers

DBS said it will bolster its liquidity relief support for small and medium-sized enterprises. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Banks in Singapore are extending additional relief measures to help their retail and business customers, in support of efforts rolled out by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and financial institutions last week to ease the financial strain caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

DBS Bank said yesterday that it will bolster its liquidity relief support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by doubling the quantum of its Digital Business Loan to $200,000.

This is the third change since Feb 26, when it was introduced at $50,000. It was doubled to $100,000 last Friday.

The Digital Business Loan is collateral-free, with SMEs required to pay only the loan's interest in the first 12 months. DBS is also waiving all processing fees.

It is among relief measures that DBS has rolled out for SMEs. These include a six-month moratorium on the payment of the principal sum for existing property loans taken by SMEs, and an extension of import facilities for up to 60 days for immediate cash-flow support.

Ms Joyce Tee, DBS' group head of SME banking, said: "We hope that by significantly beefing up the Digital Business Loan, SMEs can now access even more substantial working capital support to weather the economic fallout from Covid-19."

She added that the bank will continue to engage SMEs and industry partners to meet the specific needs of different sectors.

More such targeted relief packages will probably be introduced in the coming weeks, she said.

Yesterday, HSBC said it would add several relief measures to support the package announced last week by the MAS.

These include an interest-free deferment of the payment of insurance premiums for up to six months, and either the deferment of the principal payment or a payment holiday for mortgage customers on properties in both Singapore and Australia.

SMEs can also defer principal payments on secured term loans up to the year end, subject to the bank's credit and internal approvals.

This applies to SMEs with up to 200 workers and sales turnover of up to $100 million.

"With Singapore's international openness, we understand that the impact for our individual and business clients extends beyond these shores," said HSBC Singapore chief executive Tony Cripps.

The bank will extend mortgage relief measures for retail customers who own homes in Singapore or overseas, he said, adding that business customers can benefit from relief measures rolled out in the bank's other markets, such as China, Hong Kong and Australia.

Correction: An earlier version of the article misspelled the name of HSBC Singapore chief executive Tony Cripps. We are sorry for the error.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2020, with the headline Banks here extend aid for retail, business customers. Subscribe