Coronavirus effects bringing reduced banking transactions, cash machine use

A Swedbank cash machine.
A Swedbank cash machine. Source: Martin Dremljuga/ERR

The volume of bank transactions has fallen in the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Estonia, with cash machine use similarly falling, many of the country's main banks say.

Karel Hann, PR director at Estonian bank Luminor, says that his bank has seen a fall in transactions, understandable given the uncertainty.

"At the same time, it depends to a large extent on the specific sector - the tourism industry, for example, is certainly going through harder times. That said, an overall picture painted in such bleak tones is not appearin present and transactions are continuing, just at a downsized rate," he said.

Lennart Kitt, Head of Customer Analysis and Data Science at Scandinavian-owned SEB Baltic, said that a current slight decrease in statistics on card payments and cash machine usage, but no major deviations thus far.

"We have been seeing a significant decline in card payments over the past week, but this was anticipated given last week's high shopping rate, weekly fluctuations and changes in people's lifestyles, at a time when staying home is strongly encouraged," she said.

Kitt also says that since a number of merchants have put up screens or other devices to protect their employees, and made recommendations that card and not cash payments be used, this has been likely to have distorted the overall picture too.

Anna Kõuts, Chief Financial Officer at the Scandinavian-owned Swedbank, a decrease in the turnover of payments can be expected in a situation where restaurants, hotels and entertainment establishments are even closed. She noted, however, that shops and many industries, as well as domestic transport, are still functioning.

"We are continuing to issue new loans. At the moment, we have not seen any significant changes in our payments. Certainly, the virus will have an impact on the economy, but it is still too early to estimate the size of that impact," said Kõuts.

Coop Bank also says it has not observed a decrease in settlement volumes compared with previous periods.

"This may also be due to the fact that Coop Bank's portfolio is in a very fast growing trend," said Teet Kerem, head of day-to-day banking at Coop.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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