The coronavirus

The global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic also has major consequences for the world of money, economics and finance. De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) stands ready to support the financial system. In unison with authorities at home and abroad, we are monitoring the situation closely. Below are the answers to a number of important questions in our area of operations.

Coronapandemie - afstand houden

Can I still withdraw money from ATMs?

Yes, distribution of banknotes to the ATMs of banks continues as before. The banks and DNB hold more than sufficient stocks of banknotes, and there is currently no reason to believe that there will be a shortage of banknotes.

Can the coronavirus be passed on by means of banknotes and coins?

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has confirmed that the likelihood of becoming infected with the virus from the surface of a banknote or PIN terminal is very small. It is no greater than from any other surface. We do recommend that you wash your hands when you return from a shopping trip.

Can I still use cash to pay for my purchases?

More and more retailers are asking customers to pay with their cards. They must also accept cash if you cannot pay with a card. In that case, avoid skin contact with checkout staff.

Can I still use a PIN terminal in a shop or supermarket?

Yes, the system for electronic payments works the way it should. There is no reason to believe that this will change due to developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The institutions that are part of the “financial core infrastructure” are closely monitoring the situation as always. They may take measures if there is any reason to do so.

Is my money in the bank safe?

The money in your payment and savings accounts is just as safe as before the coronavirus crisis. Amounts held in bank accounts are guaranteed up to EUR 100,000 per person per bank. And all banks in the Netherlands are subject to close supervision by DNB and the European Central Bank (ECB). For more information, go to our web page on the Dutch Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

What will happen to my pension? Will it be reduced in the near future?

Share prices and interest rates have recently moved in a direction that is unfavourable for the funding ratio of pension funds in the Netherlands. That is a matter of concern, but it is too early to say whether this will cause more pension benefit curtailments. This is because we look at the funding ratios of pension funds at the end of the year. Also, the measures which Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees took in the autumn of 2019 have already lowered or delayed curtailments.

Will the coronavirus crisis bring about a recession?

It is too early to say, but global economic consequences could be significant. At the same time, economic conditions in most countries, and certainly in the Netherlands, have been excellent in recent years. This means that the most important economies are in good shape and have both the fiscal headroom and the debt position needed to absorb the current shocks. In order to do so, however, governments and authorities need to adopt the necessary measures in a concerted and vigorous manner.

Will this crisis cause major problems in the banking sector and the financial system?

There is no reason to believe that the coronavirus crisis will cause significant problems in banks, as was the case during the financial crisis of 2008-2010. Supervisory requirements were tightened significantly after that crisis, and European cooperation in banking supervision has improved. This means banks are healthier and problems in one European country will not easily spill over to another country. Supervisors at the European Central Bank (ECB) monitor the situation closely, in cooperation with national supervisory authorities such as DNB.

Rather than a financial crisis, the current situation is a health crisis that needs to be tackled mostly by medical means. Even so, the coronavirus crisis has a clear financial and economic impact. We are in close contact with the Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets (AFM) and the Ministry of Finance, And we stand ready to take action where needed.

What measures have the banking supervisors taken over the past days and why?

On 17 March 2020, we announced two measures aimed at supporting lending to firms and households (see our press release). We lowered the systemic risk buffer from 3% of global risk-weighted exposures to 2.5% for ING, 2% for Rabobank and 1.5% for ABN Amro. In addition, we postponed the introduction of a floor for mortgage loan risk weighting. This will help ensure that the banking sector can continue to provide loans to firms and households.

In addition, various European authorities have taken several measures. The European Central Bank (ECB), which supervises the 117 largest banks in the euro area, announced in a press release last week that banks may temporarily hold lower financial buffers. The European Banking Authority (EBA) has indicated that supervisory authorities should be flexible in applying buffer requirements. In doing so, the ECB and the EBA respond to the concern that firms and households could face financial difficulties under the current circumstances. The measures allow banks to provide more credit than under normal conditions. While these measures will take some time to make themselves felt, they can contribute to society’s confidence in economic developments.

What measures has the ECB announced to boost the economy?

The ECB announced additional measures on 12 and 18 March on top of the stimulus measures it had taken earlier. It aims to support liquidity and financing options for households, firms and banks in these uncertain times.

What measures has DNB taken to ensure it can keep performing its own tasks?

Like many other firms and institutions in the Netherlands, we have taken a range of measures in line with the recommendations of the RIVM. This is to ensure that infection is prevented in our offices, at events and during business travel as far as possible. Most of our staff are working from home, except those who can only do their work in the office. We have cancelled all meetings for the foreseeable future. Our staff no longer go on international trips.

DNB is doing its utmost to keep safeguarding the stability of the financial sector, in order to prevent lending to the business sector from being jeopardised and to ensure the payment system continues to function properly. We have recently adopted temporary measures that free up more than EUR 8 billion in capital from banks. This will enable the banks to continue lending to the firms and households in the face of rising losses. The total impact on lending could rise to a maximum of EUR 200 billion.

Is there anything else you want to ask us?

Feel free to contact us by telephone at 0800 020 1068 (+31 20 524 91 11 if you call us from outside the Netherlands), on business days between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., or by email at.