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Extensive financial support provided in wake of Türkiye quakes

In the wake of devastating earthquakes that struck Türkiye last February, the banking sector extended continuous financial support to the region, with the loans provided to the region exceeding the Turkish average, according to a report Monday.

From the day the earthquakes hit until the end of October, commercial loans nationwide grew by 32%, while the growth in the earthquake-affected region stood at 36%, the Banks Association of Türkiye (TBB) informed.

According to a statement from the TBB on the anniversary of the earthquakes that occurred on Feb. 6, 2023, in Kahramanmaraş, immediate priority was given to meeting the urgent needs of the citizens, bank employees and customers affected by the disaster and addressing their wounds.

To quickly normalize financial life and ensure fast and reliable information flow to customers and all stakeholders, an effective communication infrastructure was established with official representatives of government agencies assigned to the region.

The initial actions ensured the uninterrupted continuation of banking services in the earthquake-affected region and the healthy operation of the payment system.

Starting the disbursement of earthquake aid within the same week was a crucial step for ensuring the continuity of financial life.

The board of directors of the TBB is said to have convened on the morning the disaster occurred to take advisory decisions aimed at limiting the economic impact of the disaster and contributing to the rapid normalization of the region.

In line with these decisions, it was recommended to provide additional facilities for customers impacted by the powerful tremors, whose payment capabilities were negatively impacted, such as postponing matured debts to banks upon request and providing financing options.

It was decided that notifications related to credit risk, credit payments, promissory notes and check transactions for customers residing in the affected area would be made per the force majeure regulation by the Risk Center.

The second special meeting of the board of directors was held a week after the earthquakes where additional measures needed based on developments in the past week were rapidly implemented.

These included waiving fees and commissions for certain banking services throughout 2023, providing administrative and legal facilitation for the collection, foreclosure, execution and tracking of overdue loans, and erasing the credit debts of individual and real-person commercial customers who lost their lives in the earthquake.

Some 73% of branches and 34% of the ATMs operating in the quake zone were initially out of service with 407 of a total 916 of bank offices being damaged to the extent of not being able to operate. Similarly, some 1,087 of 4,345 ATMs were impacted.

However, thanks to the activities carried out in collaboration with public institutions by the banking sector, uninterrupted banking activities were ensured. Within the first week of the quakes, the banking services were enabled in almost every part of the region through at least one channel with the help of a total of 49 mobile branches.

About three months after the earthquake, by the end of April, banking services approached their pre-earthquake level.

At the end of October, the banking sector became capable of providing widespread service through all channels with a total of 736 branches, 3,991 ATMs and 117 mobile/container support branches.

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