Lithuanian banks are preparing for peak days of euro changeover

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

By this Memorandum, banks have made a commitment to extend customer service hours at their branches during the most intensive changeover period, to provide favourable conditions for depositing cash litas into bank accounts, as well as to apply other measures so that residents and businesses can exchange their money as smoothly as possible, the Bank of Lithuania informs.

“Banks will have to play a very important role in the exchange of litas into euro. In order that this process is as simple as possible for residents and businesses, the Bank of Lithuania has initiated this Memorandum.

“It comprises basic aspects of banking business that, with an increase in customer flows, would help avoid “jams” and related time-waste, as well as negative emotions”, says Vitas Vasiliauskas, Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania. According to him, the increased need for people and businesses to exchange large amounts of cash will not only require additional effort from each bank, but their coming together, goodwill and common understanding of the goals.

“Banks fully understand that the adoption of the euro is not only a complex process in technical terms, but a socially sensitive one as well; thus, during the transition, they will extend working hours of their branches according to possibilities, and will allocate additional technical and staff resources so that the euro adoption is smooth and convenient for customers,” says Stasys Kropas, President of the Association of Lithuanian Banks.

According to Kropas, the updated IT technological systems are capable to substantially ease workloads of banks’ physical branches; therefore, both now and during the adoption period, bank customers are urged to use electronic payment instruments, thereby minimizing problems related to cash changeover.

The banks that have signed the Memorandum will, during the intensive changeover period at the end of this year and at the beginning of next year, take into account customer flows, are going to extend working hours of their customer service units and, providing there are technical possibilities, on 1 January 2015 and the weekend of January 3-4, provide conditions for customers to exchange cash litas into euro. At the end of 2014 and during the first days of the euro adoption, banks will also increase the number of staff performing cash changeover operations and will apply other measures to ensure a smooth changeover.

Heads of the banks, jointly with the Bank of Lithuania, have also agreed on the network of bank branches to cover the entire country, through which litas will be exchanged into euro free of charge. The list of banks that will exchange litas into euro free of charge in the near future will be approved by the Board of the Bank of Lithuania.

The Bank of Lithuania, seeking to ensure proper service of residents, smooth activities of banks and cash in transit companies during the frontloading of euro banknotes and coins in the first days of the euro adoption, is going to extend the working hours of the branches of the Bank of Lithuania servicing banks and residents, on 1 and 3 January 2015 to open customer service cash offices, and, if needed, to also work on other days-off and holidays.

Bearing in mind the limited possibilities for small distribution businesses and service providers to envisage the necessary amount of funds for collateral against euro and ensure adequate storage of funds received during the frontloading, banks have made a commitment during the last five days of 2014 to provide favourable conditions for small enterprises for proper acquisition of euro banknotes and coins.

The Memorandum with the Bank of Lithuania has been signed by the banks conducting cash operations – Citadele Bankas, Danske Bank, DNB Bankas, Finasta, Medicinos Bankas, Nordea, SEB Bankas, Swedbank and Šiaulių Bankas.

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