Nedbank has approved 65 000 applications from customers who need financial relief as South Africa’s economy all but grinds to a halt during the lockdown.

Most of SA’s retail banks started offering one form or another of debt repayment relief to consumers and small businesses last month.   

Nedbank said 130 000 customers had approached it to take up the opportunity by 14 April. Although the bank has so far provided debt repayment relief to half of the applicants, it said it has no declines recorded, meaning that it is still in the process of reviewing the remainder of the requests, or customers have been provided other relief measures due to not qualifying under Covid-19 relief.

“We could never have anticipated the massive extent of the response to this offer of financial help,” said managing executive of Nedbank Retail and Business Banking, Ciko Thomas.

Vast need

Given Nedbank’s roughly 8 million active customers, those who have applied for assistance so far represent just 0.01% of its customer base. But the bank says the need for assistance which include payment holidays and additional credit extension is vast and still growing.

Thomas said this showed the extent of the impact that the coronavirus (Covid-19), and specifically the lockdown, are having on the nation. 

Of the requested debt payment arrangements approved so far, the biggest category was vehicle loans, where about 21 500 agreement are being restructured. More than 4 500 customers will get payment relief on their home loans and 33 400 on personal loans.

The bank also gave payment holidays on overdraft facilities and gave overdraft top ups worth R3.4 billion.

Other banks are yet to release their numbers on the percentage of customers that have struggled to service their debt since the lockdown started. Even though the SA Reserve Bank has cut the repo rate by 200 basis points over the past month, giving consumers with linked interest rate credit like home loans and vehicle finance some relief, many people who don’t earn salaries are expected to struggle honouring even the reduced instalments.

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