ANZ has assured customers that it is in good financial shape, and says its six month mortgage holidays will be ready to go by Monday.
Chief executive Antonia Watson says that borrowers will be able to start applying for the pause in payments from next Monday so long as their mortgage is in good shape, and they are up to date on their payments. The holiday will be for principle mortgage payments, with interest still accumulating in the meantime.
She also noted that the banking sector was more confident about facing this financial crisis as a result of the reforms brought in following the GFC.
“We're not ready to hit the 'go' button, that will probably be about Monday,” Watson told RNZ.
“Anyone who has their home lending or their business lending backed by a mortgage will be able to pay up to six months deferral of both their principle and interest payments. So over six months, you can free up that cash flow you'd otherwise have to put into your mortgage.”
“I think people need to have complete confidence in the banking system in New Zealand,” she added. “We are extremely well capitalised. We were on a path to being even more well capitalised. That capital is for a rainy day and that rainy day is here, and the Reserve Bank has acknowledged that.”
Watson said that shutting down the country for four weeks is an “unprecedented” move in New Zealand history, and that it will undoubtedly have significant effects on GDP. However, she says New Zealand is in a better position to weather this storm than many other countries, and that there is “no concern” about the safety of New Zealand banks.
“The ATMs have got loads of cash in them,” she said. “There is lots of cash in the system and the Reserve Bank is prepared to implement quantitative easing, so I think we're in a really good position.
“It's not going to be pretty, but on balance I'd rather be here than in other parts of the world.”