VIENNA, Austria - March 30, 2020 – In order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, many Austrians are currently following the recommendations on cashless payments and limiting their visits to bank branches to an absolute minimum. For many, however, this is also connected with conducting their day-to-day banking activities through alternative contact points and new channels. "Our special thanks currently go to our customers. They are taking the current situation very seriously. We have already noticed that our branches are now only visited for urgent matters and that numerous customers are considering the use of our alternative banking services including ebanking, telephone banking and direct remote connection with their advisory teams. With all these measures, we can jointly minimize the risk of infection and contribute to the containment of the Coronavirus, and customers are able to fulfill the majority of their financial needs”, explains David O'Leary, Member of the Managing Board of BAWAG Group and responsible for the retail and SME business of BAWAG P.S.K. in Austria. In BAWAG P.S.K.'s customer service department, eBanking was one of the most frequently requested topics in the first few days since the exit restrictions imposed by the Austrian Federal Government.
Although BAWAG P.S.K. branches are currently open, customers are encouraged to reduce their branch visits to a minimum and instead make more use of eBanking or telephone banking services. This is especially valid for older people, who belong to the high-risk groups. Retired people who usually come to the branch to withdraw parts of their pension money, make payments or deposit money into savings accounts are advised by the bank to refrain from this habit for their own protection and furthermore to use alternative services or family assistance. In order to encounter this particularly challenging situation, the amount limit for “PSK-Anweisungen” payments to substitute addressees has been raised to € 3,000 as of now (until further notice). A special certificate of authority for a one-time remedy or a special certificate of authority for a certain period of time can also support older persons during this time. "We would like to point out that the cash supply is guaranteed for all people in Austria. Particularly risk groups should, for their own safety, only stay in their familiar home environment", says O'Leary.
Paying with card: Austria is below the average in the Eurozone comparison
In addition, in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, many Austrians are opting for cashless payments in supermarkets, pharmacies or gas stations. However, although cashless payments have become more and more accepted in this country in recent years, Austrians are not the most active card payers within the Euro area. This is shown by a glance at the latest available data from the ECB on card transactions totaling € 1,826 billion, broken down by Euro area member state. If the total value is put in relation to the population of the countries, each Austrian pays an average of € 4,909 per year with a card. This value puts us in ninth place in the country comparison, but below the Eurozone average. In the Eurozone, an average of € 5,353 per capita per year is paid by card. The top performers in this ranking are the Luxembourgers with a total of € 17,962 being paid per capita by card on average, followed by the Irish (€ 10,817) and Finns (€ 9,258). Greece (€ 2,155) and Slovakia (€ 2,130) are at the bottom of the ranking.
Manfred Rapolter (Head of Communications, Spokesperson)