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Hong Kong banks to offer relief on mortgages, credit cards, corporate loans as coronavirus outbreak

Some banks in Hong Kong are rolling out measures to help homeowners and businesses in the city overcome the impact of coronavirus outbreak on their finances as the government and rating companies warn of further fallout in the local economy.

The Bank of China Hong Kong, one of three currency-issuing lenders in the city, was first to move on Thursday when it offered relief to clients facing affected by the viral outbreak. Standard Chartered is evaluating programmes to help struggling customers, while HSBC said it had already put in place plans to help small businesses.

Other lenders are likely to follow suit. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said some banks would introduce a temporary freeze on principal repayment of residential and commercial mortgages, reduction in credit card fees and restructuring of repayment schedules for corporate loans.

“The HKMA welcomes such initiatives, and would encourage other [authorised institutions] to consider taking similar action,” Raymond Chan, the HKMA’s executive director for banking supervision, said in a letter to industry leaders. “A proactive response by the banking industry will help mitigate the financial consequences of the outbreak.”

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