Banks promise access to money even in case of war

Banks promise access to money even in case of war
Banks promise access to money even in case of war

Recently, there has been more and more widespread discussion in society about the increase in external insecurity, therefore someone may have questions about the availability of money in crisis situations, the security of its transfers and the like. From conversations with various financial market participants, both from official comments and conversations on the sidelines, it follows that financial security is also technically ensured in the event of a state threat. At the same time, since there is no direct military threat to Latvia and such is not expected in the coming years, there are calls to use critical thinking and not to indulge in agitation, because every wave of unfounded panic works in favor of the enemy across the border, which cannot be said for the well-being itself. In addition, experts point out that unnecessarily created stressful situations also create favorable soil for the growth of various fraudulent activities.

Money is safe

SEB banka, together with the Bank of Latvia, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Finance, the banking sector and external partners in technology, communication and other fields, works diligently to ensure that financial services are available to citizens in crisis situations and that citizens’ money is safe. The bank is ready for crisis situations and will ensure the security and availability of customer information, funds and services provided,” emphasized Lita Juberte-Krūmiņa, head of SEB banka’s corporate communication, in a conversation with “Neatkarigo”. She also points out that in crisis situations related to threats to the operation of the state, the financial sector, the provision of all critical financial services will be ensured in Latvia – making payments in the internet bank and mobile app, making payments with a payment card and withdrawing cash from an ATM. In the event of a crisis, the availability of cash is provided throughout the ATM network as far as possible. At the same time, it is established that 99ATMs in Latvia are the so-called critical ATMs, which are primarily supplied with cash in a crisis situation. The location map of these ATMs is available on the website of the Bank of Latvia. Regarding the provision of payments, L. Juberte-Krūmiņa adds that “SEB banka” in cooperation with partners is constantly working on issues of financial sector continuity, including solving various issues less visible to the public, related to strengthening cyber security and making smooth payments even in various crisis situations. “It is important to realize that the overall cyber resilience also depends on each resident, so we purposefully invest not only in our systems, but also in the financial literacy of our customers in order to strengthen the overall immunity against cyber attacks,” says L. Juberte-Krūmiņa.

Already tested in practice

It should be noted that very critical situations have already been “tested” in practice. Here, a very visible example was the spreading of rumors about alleged solvency problems of “Swedbank” several years ago, when people rushed to “grab” money from the bank en masse. Of course, there was no basis for the rumours, and the ATMs remained as they were filled with money. There was even a paradoxical situation that people initially stood in queues to withdraw money, and then – to return the money back to the bank account. Even now, “Swedbank” has announced readiness for crisis situations, should they arise. According to bank representative Jānis Krops, all sets of measures are aimed at providing customers with maximum access to their assets, as far as possible in this type of situation. “Therefore, the leadership of the Bank of Latvia has developed an action plan for citizens to take into account in an emergency (just like the 72-hour plan developed by the Ministry of Defense). Likewise, for such situations there is a procedure in which the representatives of commercial banks continue their work in wartime and provide customers with the necessary information about the physical availability of financial funds or banks,” the representative of “Swedbank” outlines the possible scenario for the X hour. He emphasizes that there is no need to worry about the security of IT systems of banks or the availability of funds for refilling ATMs to the extent that this infrastructure would be physically available in wartime. “Even before the war in Ukraine, Swedbank has invested considerable funds to ensure the security of the bank’s digital channels and their availability in various crisis situations. In addition, with the beginning of actual hostilities in our region, this work is even more focused on ensuring accessibility to an even higher degree,” says J. Krops.

If complications arise, the rest of the “big four” banks, which are considered systemically important, are also ready. “Citadele” has made the necessary preparations for various scenarios in order to be able to provide customers with the availability of information, funds and provided services, confirmed Jānis Mūrnieks, head of the bank’s Private Person Service Department. “Luminor” also operates in accordance with the procedure established by the Bank of Latvia to provide critical financial services to citizens, doing so in coordination with other providers of critical financial services.

What is the critical rate?

It was already mentioned above about the priority ATMs set in the country, which are the first to be supplied with money in a crisis situation, but there are several more requirements so that the financial life of the country, its citizens and companies can be of the highest possible quality in crisis situations. According to the regulations, payment card payments in a crisis situation must be provided in full, if access to the infrastructure of international card schemes is not impaired. On the other hand, payments in the internet bank and mobile app in a crisis situation must be ensured in the amount of at least 70% of the daily service working hours. It seems complicated, but such a norm was introduced with the intention of ensuring in practice that the interruption of payment services would not exceed 12 hours a day. As the “Independent” was informed by the Bank of Latvia, the regulation of critical financial services has recently been improved, defining several additional solutions to ensure the availability of critical financial services. One of them is additional requirements for critical ATMs to ensure their availability in case of unavailability of power supply and data transmission services. A transitional period until January 1, 2025 has been set for the implementation of this requirement. Also, a new requirement has been introduced regarding the acceptance of payment cards, which provides for the use of an offline solution for the purchase of essential goods (for example, food, fuel and medicines) for a total amount not exceeding 200 euros per customer. A transition period has also been set for the implementation of this requirement until next year for January 1.

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The article is in Latvian

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