To minimize the spread of coronavirus infection, the Croatian National Bank issued a recommendation to credit institutions to issue debit cards to the most vulnerable consumers and to ensure separate working hours for retirees.
Taking into consideration the recommendations of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Public Health Institute related to minimising movement and social interaction, the Croatian National Bank issued a recommendation to banks to temporarily waive fees charged for ATM transactions of natural persons at ATMs outside a bank’s own ATM network in the Republic of Croatia.
The recommendation is aimed at reducing the risk of infection as in that case, customers would not use the possibly more distant ATMs within their bank’s ATM network to avoid additional expenses, but would be able to use the closest available ATM instead.
The CNB expects the recommendation to be applied as soon as possible, and no later than as of 25 March 2020, and to remain in application for the entire duration of the extraordinary conditions brought about by COVID-19.
Furthermore, banks have been asked to consider the possibility of issuing debit cards to the most vulnerable groups of consumers. This primarily refers to the elderly who do not hold debit cards linked to accounts and to consumers who, due to blocked accounts, opened protected accounts for which some banks do not normally issue debit cards. The use of debit cards would enable these population groups to access cash and information on their account balance via the ATM network. Banks have also been invited to consider the options which would enable access to branch offices with minimum risk to the health of particular population groups (e. g. separate working hours for retirees).
The aforementioned recommendations take into account the most vulnerable population groups and individuals that have been advised to restrict their movement as much as possible to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 to the lowest possible degree.Moreover, taking into account the crisis caused by the coronavirus and the earthquake that struck Zagreb on 22 March 2020, in case banks plan to reduce the number of operating branch offices in the upcoming period, the CNB expects them to approach the matter in a responsible and analytical manner, taking into consideration the health and safety of their employees and, at the same time, ensuring client access to basic banking services provided in branch offices. The CNB stresses the vital importance of maintaining the functionality, accessibility and stability of the ATM network, EFTPOS network and key digital channels (e-banking and m-banking) in these extraordinarily challenging circumstances.