Last week, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed that he has been working closely with the banks to address the issue of slow turnaround times for bridging finance applications from customers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr Frydenberg, who reportedly met with the heads of the major banks on several occasions, announced that new support hotlines would be launched by the big four to ensure affected businesses can pay workers while they wait for the government’s $1,500 JobKeeper wage subsidy,
The announcement followed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for banks to “step up” their turnaround times.
Major banks have now officially committed to roll out their new support hotlines and address processing lags.
ANZ has announced that in addition to rolling out a new hotline (which it has not yet launched), it would implement a process to identify which customers require the most urgent assistance and prioritise their funding requests until their JobKeeper payments arrive in May.
“This is a challenging time for some of our business customers as they try to make ends meet while supporting their staff members and their businesses,” ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said.
“ANZ is committed to helping those customers who need to fill an urgent short-term funding gap while they wait for extraordinary financial support from the government’s JobKeeper program.”
NAB has officially launched its new hotline, 1800 JOB KEEPER (1800 562 533).
According to NAB CEO Ross McEwan, the bank has retrained staff to ensure customer needs are met.
“We recognise this funding is critical to keeping businesses afloat, people in jobs, and food on the table for the many people who are doing it tough right now,” he said.
“We’re working as quickly as we can, with more than 350 people retrained to support customer-facing roles so far, so we can support as many customers as we can over this hurdle.”
Meanwhile, Westpac has rolled out several hotlines across its brands – Westpac (1300 731 073), Bank of Melbourne (1300 784 873), BankSA (1300 669 472) and St.George Bank (1300 730 196).
“Keeping Australians in jobs and getting paid is vitally important,” Westpac’s chief executive, business division, Guil Lima, said.
“We also understand many of our customers need help immediately, and that’s why we’ve put these measures in place.”
He added: “Westpac is committed to helping our business customers as they navigate this period by offering practical, meaningful support where we can. We all have a role to play in this extraordinary and challenging time.”
The new initiative builds on a number of relief measures introduced by the banks in cooperation with the federal government and the Reserve Bank of Australia, which include low-cost funding, loan guarantees and repayment holidays.
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