Ubank Lending a Helping Hand to Customers to Ease the Impact of COVID-19

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is increasing at an alarming rate, with South Africa’s infection cases close to one thousand seven hundred and eleven fatalities as of 6 April 2020. It has become a global disruptor, for both businesses and in people’s lives. COVID-19 incidence came at the worse time for South Africa when we are experiencing an ailing economy, high unemployment rate and confronted with poor living conditions for many of our people.

As a proclaimed workers’ bank of choice whose existence originates from the people and the communities’ pleas, Ubank’s core mandate has always been to serve the under privileged and unbanked. Predominantly offering services to the mineworkers in the gold and platinum mines and their communities; these are individuals that were snubbed by many banks in the past but Ubank has always been there for over forty years; treating them with respect, dignity and continue to help them become active participants in the economy.

As we reach day eleven of South Africa’s COVID-19 national lockdown, government has since implemented measures to control the COVID-19 rapid growth rate as it is done globally. These measures have resulted in many organisations’ operations temporarily ending and as such affecting its employees and their families. These are unfortunately tough measures but necessary to enable the government to flattened the infection curve.

With closure of many businesses and the subsequent financial impact, government through its various organisations have introduced COVID-19 relief strategies to support businesses, its employees and South Africa’s residents at large. To ensure that these strategies succeed, private sector needs to come to the party to ensure survival of South Africa and its people.

In our pledge of “Thuma Mina”, Ubank has come up with various COVID-19 support strategies to ensure that the customers can still access their accounts, offer urgent in-branches services and meet their financial needs in a safe manner. Therefore, all Ubank main branches will remain open throughout the national lockdown, however, we are employing social distancing, hand sanitizing, have reduced headcount and provided our employees with safety apparels (mask and gloves) to abide by the national lockdown protocols. The bank is ensuring that only a limited number of customers can queue in the branches and at Ubank ATMs at any given time to guarantee that social distancing is observed.

We acknowledge that the lockdown will bring tough times for our customers and nothing is worse when we as fathers, mothers or caregivers have to stay at home as a result of this pandemic lockdown and still be faced with the stress of keeping your family safe and making sure they are fed. Hence Ubank will be introducing the payment holiday relief plan for our customers, said Ubank CEO, Luthando Vutula.

Bearing in mind the tough economic environment ahead of us following the Junk status down grade; our credit department has cautiously designed a three months’ payment holiday for customers whose loans are up to date. These loans will be restructured so only the repayment terms increase to allow for the payment holiday to occur thus enabling the customers’ instalments to remain unchanged from their original agreement and warranting that their affordability is not in any way impacted. Our credit department will be in contact with qualifying customers in few days to come, said Vutula.

In light of reduced public transport, we took banking to our people and made our Bank on Wheels (BOW) available in the Eastern Cape (Mthatha) and Gauteng (Pretoria, Mamelodi) between the 31st March until 3rd of April and we furthermore intend to find avenues we can deploy to reduce the cost of transacting during the lockdown period which will be shared with customers in due course.

Ubank has also partnered with the South African Post Office (SAPO) to disburse SASSA pensioners’ grant payments. This will empower SAPO offices to fast track payments, lessen queues and crowding thus reducing the possibility of infections. The BOW will be based in Mthatha, Mamelodi and Polokwane operating from 09h00 until 16h00 during the weekend of 30 April until 2 May 2020. Address details of the BOW locations can be found on our website.

Other channels that customers have include contact access to our Call Centre available on 086000 8322 for any customer queries. Customers can safely use our internet and mobile banking in the private on their home to avoid crowds or use their debit card to transact at any Point of Sales (POS) with an EasyPay sign. Our customer can also use our USSD channel by dialling *120*101010#. Similarly, they can register and use MTN’s MoMo wallet App- powered by Ubank without leaving their homes, for more details customers can visit MTN’s website. Alternatively, customers can make deposits at our branches, at the Shoprite, Checkers or Pick ‘n Pay stores with EasyPay sign or at the SA Post Office network.