The BCRA Promotes Greater Financial Inclusion

The Board of the BCRA has approved a policy that seeks to encourage credit, financial inclusion, electronic payment, and a better functioning and geographical distribution of ATMs.

The policy focuses on four major concerns:

- To grant loans to individuals and SMEs who have not been recorded in the Debtors’ Database of the Financial System.

- To foster the use of e-checks and electronic credit invoices.

- To encourage the use of electronic means of payment and automatic bill payments from savings accounts.

- To improve the efficiency of ATMs in order to reduce downtime and to extend the network to reach cities and towns where there is no such service today.

Banks will be allowed, in the form of exception, to meet lower non-remunerated minimum reserve requirements as long as they succeed in implementing policies to foster financial inclusion and promote electronic payments.

They will then have to demonstrate that they have granted the first line of credit to individuals and SMEs with no access to bank loans, and that they have been financing a growing number of SMEs and MSMEs through e-checks or electronic payment invoices.

Banking institutions will also be able to take companies’ and individuals’ loans granted outside the financial system and turn them into bank loans at, on average, half the interest rate charged by non-bank lenders.

As for the use of electronic means of payment, incentives are granted to banks that record growing savings accounts debits resulting from purchases in stores with debit cards, electronic transfers, direct debits, or payments of credit card bills.

Finally, there are other incentives for banks that do not have ATMs out of service (e.g., print error message or banknotes unavailability), and for all those that extend their networks to cities that have few or no ATMs available.

March 31, 2021.

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