CFI’s Isabelle Barres argues that there’s no one size fits all for moratoriums, and that clients must be given choice and transparency.
What’s happening in your markets? Are moratoriums being imposed? Were conditions clearly spelled out to clients? What about providers? Are moratoriums extending to them as well?
Tell us what you are seeing and experiencing!
In the case of Nepal, recently monetary policy issued by central bank has made certain provision regarding moratorium period. According to policy. The loan installment repayment and interest payment of least affected by COVID-19 on business/ profession have been extended up to Mid January 2021. If there were a medium affected business, this facility shall be extended to Mid April 2021. This shall be extended to Mid July, 2021 for the highly affected business by COVID-19.
In Pakistan, the regulator SECP and SBP has responded proactively to facilitate customers and remained client centric in all means. The first case and a death was reported in the month of March 2020, and in the same month the country wide lock down is imposed firstly in Sindh province and then in other provinces. Keeping in view the financial stress over customers and service providers, The State Bank of Pakistan and Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan allows MFBs and NBMFC has to defer principle payment for one year upon written request from the borrower and provided a timeline till 30 June 2020. In connection to this, the SBP waives online transaction charges as well and directs MFB’s and Digital Service Providers to facilitate use of digital financial services, however, the SECP only allows some flexibility in the reporting standards for the NBMFC’s though the providers expected more from the regulator but the exceptions aren't met. The Lock down continues for the next month due to dramatic increase in cases, further, the SBP and SECP on the request of customers allows request for deferment or rescheduling via SMS, Email, and Phone Call which cause a challenge for the institutions. In the same month, finance ministry announced refinance scheme to support employment and prevent layoff of workers. Hence, we have witnessed that the NBMFC were not eligible for the provided scheme, and again the NBMFC's are ignored. The lock down ends in May 2020; the business operational activities were resumed by adopting Government provided SOP’s. In June 2020, again the SMART lock down was imposed and more than 45 hot spots were identified which were remained lock down till 3rd July 2020.
As per current updates, the Non-bank Microfinance Companies here in Pakistan have reschedule loans of worth PKR 36 billion of total 2,244,605 individuals and micro-enterprises. Out of these, 1,379,330 borrowers were facilitated through deferment of principal repayments of PKR 27.778 billion by NBMFCs, while 865,275 borrowers benefited through rescheduling of loans of PKR 7.998 billion rupees. However, the security and exchange commission of Pakistan has extended the timeline by three months for NBMFCs to accept deferment requests of borrowers till September 30, 2020. Earlier, the regulator had urged the NBMFCs to adopt a considerate approach to accommodate their borrowers who belong to unprivileged segments of the society. Hence, this is a part of regulator efforts to provide relief for mitigating adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in slowdown in business and livelihood activity. What i believe is, the crises is not yet over, the institutions will face after-shock sooner or later, and the one who will respond to the crises proactively and wisely will survive.
In Indian market, there has been a moratorium being given for a total period of 6 months. This was given in two blocks of 3 months each by the apex regulating authority, first from March'20 to May'20 and then from June'20 to Aug'20. The institutions have extended them to their customers in different ways which could have been avoided by clearly laying out the process as well for the institutions on how to offer it to the customers. While some institutions have given its as an opt in feature others have given it as an opt out feature. This makes it very confusing for the customer as usually customers will have loans from multiple lending institutions and so this difference in methodologies adopted makes it harder for them. Also some lenders have tried to charge customers for charges towards non payment through auto electronic clearing even when regulator has clearly laid down the guidelines. While the moratoriums have been given but the delivery of moratorium for end customers could have been better specially in phase 2 after learning from phase 1 issues. The moratoriums were not extended to providers and had added to the confusion on ground. This specially impacted the non bank lenders during the phase 1 and they made continuous representations to RBI , the apex regulating body for same but with no success. In phase 2, SBI the largest public sector bank took lead and extended the moratorium to non bank lenders and the same was followed by other banks providing some relief to the non bank lenders. RBI has tried to put in liquidity directed for non bank lenders but some how it has not trickled down to the smaller players specially small nbfcs and micro finance players leading to choking of capital availability via them to economy.
The positive side is that this is slowly improving as banks realize that the liquidity provided by RBI needs to be put to use somewhere. What we see on ground is the market getting warmed up for possible consolidation in form of M&A over next 6-12 months with some of the bigger players also up for sale on non bank side.