Bank of Estonia adds Coop Pank to vital service providers list

A Coop Pank branch.
A Coop Pank branch. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Bank of Estonia, the country's central bank, has added Coop Pank to the state list of providers of vital services, increasing the number of banks in Estonia required to guarantee continuity of service even in crises to five.

On this list are the most important companies in terms of the functioning of Estonia's economy and society — including banks with a significant share of payments and cash transactions — whose service continuity must be guaranteed even in a crisis situation, according to an announcement issued by the bank on Tuesday.

The banks on this list have coordinated plans with the Bank of Estonia to prevent crisis situations and restore services in the event of an interruption. To this end, the banks also cooperate with companies in other critical areas and with state institutions such as the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Rescue Board.

According to Heikko Mäe, board member and head of risk management at Coop Pank, there is an increased expectation for vital service providers to ensure the availability of its services in various emergency situations.

"For the bank, this means even greater investments than today to ensure the functioning of services," Mäe said. "But for the customer, it adds confidence and a certain mark of quality that Coop Pank services will be available to them [even] under exceptional circumstances."

The bank will now have one year to comply with vital service provider requirements.

A vital service is defined in Estonia's Emergency Act as a service that has an overwhelming impact on the functioning of society and the interruption of which poses an immediate threat to people's lives or health or the provision of other vital services or services of general interest.

Among services deemed vital by the state are electricity, natural gas and liquid fuel supply, mobile phone and data transmission services, national roads, digital identification and signature services, district heating and water supply and sewerage.

Payment services and cash circulation are likewise explicitly defined by law as vital services, and the Bank of Estonia designated as responsible for organizing the continuity thereof.

Providers of vital services are required to plan for a variety of threats, ranging from riots and strikes to floods, fires and epidemics as well as information systems and equipment failures and cyberattacks.

Banks previously already added to the list of vital service providers include SEB, Swedbank, Luminor and — most recently, in 2019 — LHV.

The Estonian capital-based Coop Pank is one of five universal banks operating in Estonia, with more than 152,000 clients using it for their daily banking needs.

The strategic shareholder of the bank is domestic retail chain Coop Eesti, which includes 320 stores across the country.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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