The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on economies, revealing the true capacity of economic systems in dealing with crisis. However, there were capable organizations who not only survived the difficulties, but also helped the other companies and institutes to handle the situation. Banking systems were not an exception.
Saman Bank, as a member of Iran’s banking system, felt the responsibility as well and made efforts to help curb the coronavirus outbreak both in organizational and public level.
Saman Bank personnel
Noting the importance and necessity of protecting the personnel against the coronavirus and while most sectors of the Iran’s economy were shut down, Saman tried its best to continue serving the clients. This required the presence of the employees at the bank branches under strict health instructions. health and safety commission held regular sessions from the very beginning of the outbreak to decide on measures and instructions needed for providing and distributing necessay equipment. Despite the shortage of health products and equipment in the market during the primary peak of the outbreak, the bank provided its staff with necessary goods, moving through the crisis with the least possible challenges. Later the bank made some changes in the interior design of the branches to help decrease the contacts.
Saman Bank, besides all other efforts to help the country in fight against the coronavirus pandemic, facilitated e-services for customers in order to decrease their presence in the branches.
The most important step was perhaps installing cashless ATMs and cash recycler ATMs at branches widely. The extensive network of these machines made it possible for the customers to dispense the cash needless of any contact with bank employees. The measure actually took a huge burden off the shoulders of the Iran’s banking system as it was open to customers of all other banks. Using the cashless ATMs, the bank also increased the maximum daily transfer amount by 150 million rials.
The bank also asked the customers to reduce their physical presence at the branches to only essential tasks, urging them to use online services available via internet website, mobile application, and telephone thanks to its powerful thecnological infrastructure.
The daily cash withdrawal limit from ATMs was also increased to 5 million rials until a second notice, while ATM card to card transfer limit was also raised to 50 million rials a day. The bank also increased from 3 to 5 the times that ATM card PIN could be entered wrong and extended the expiry date of the ATM cards.
Instruction for customers
Saman Bank also made efforts to raise awareness among its customers as well as the public, providing them with essential health instructions. The bank’s public relations staff worked with utmost capacity and used all available means including social media, messaging systems, posters, and billboards to encourage people to use e-services while promoting prevention ways.
Donating medical equipment to hospitals
The unexpected spread of the coronavirus challenged medical equipment industries, making it difficult to provide goods. This was particularly critical for medical workers who were at the frontlines of the fight against the outbreak. To support the medical front liners, Saman Bank donateds load of medical goods and personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, thermometer, and ventilator to a number of hospitals.
Supporting Natl. plasma therapy program against COVID-19
One of the most important efforts of Saman Bank in fight to curb the coronavirus pandemic was supporting Iran’s national program of plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients, in order to fulfill its social responsibility.
In this regard, the bank established cooperation with with Darman Ara company, a pioneer of Iran’s plasma industry, that has played a vital role in founding and developing plasma collecting centers in the country. Darman Ara earlier made a proposal to collect plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19, launching an experimenting phase in a number of medical centers with 200 patients.
To help the project, Saman Insurance provided all researchers and sponsors of the plasma project with civil liability coverage. Saman Bank, on the other hand, covered 70 percent of insurance costs of the project to help its implementation.
Noteworthy, the plasma therapy method was already introduced by Chinese research centers. However, there is no precise report on the project’s success as China’s plasma industry is not as developed as it is in Iran. Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the method as a treatment to the coronavirus infection and several US plasma centers are currently working on it.
Postponing interest-free loans repayments
One of the challenges during the coronavirus outbreak was its economic impact on the vulnerable low-income as most businesses were shut down. As the main borrowers of interest-free loans, they have faced difficulties in meeting deadlines of loan repayments amid economic downtrend that would lead to their neagtive assessment in the banking system. Therefore, Saman Bank deferred the repayment deadlines by three months after the Central Bank of Iran announced the measure.
Delaying loan repayments for businesses
Along with people, most of businesses in the country were impacted by the pandemic as strict quarantine measures were in place. The bank, therefore, approved a three-month deferral of loan repayments for the business that have been creditworthy.
Providing facilities for protecting jobs
Saman Bank further continued its approach of protecting jobs and boosting national production during the crisis, providing facilities for the companies that had not laid off their employees. In cases, the bank also deferred the repayment deadlines for such clients. The strategy is aimed at saving jobs and reinforcing national production to help the workers and entrepreneurs.
Delaying repayments of NDF
As the operating bank of the National Development Fund of Iran, Saman has postponed the repayments of the facilities lent by the fund to businesses to give the companies and firms the opportunity to recover from the economic crisis.
Providing facilities with three-month break
The economic difficulties caused by the pandemic was unpredictable for many families and businesses and put them in trouble. To help save deposit resources of its customer, the bank approved to offer special facilities to the clients who had deposits of 1 to 5 billion tomans. The loans, offered up to 80 percent of the deposit (the maximum would be 200 million tomans), has to be repaid in 36 months with a three-month break.
Saman Bank, as a financial organization with a serious approach toward its social responsibilities, has always been trying to improve the life condition for its staff and customers as well as Iranians and all the measures taken during the coronavirus crisis have also been aimed at the same goal.