March 22, 2020 / 4:13 PM / 10 days ago

S.Africa's Standard Bank gives students and small businesses payment holiday

JOHANNESBURG, March 22 (Reuters) - South Africa-based Standard Bank will give a payment holiday to small businesses and full-time students in a bid to ease financial pressures on its customers as COVID-19 spreads across the country.

Africa’s largest economy has confirmed 240 cases of the virus so far with President Cyril Ramaphosa last week declaring a state of disaster and implementing range of measures including travel bans and prohibiting gatherings of more than 100.

Standard Bank, Africa’s largest lender by assets, said on Sunday the payment relief for small enterprise customers with turnovers of less than 20 million rand ($1.1 million) would kick in on April 1 and run to the end of June.

The relief will come from capitalising the interest and fees typically paid to the bank each month and changing the terms of repayment to a later date, Standard Bank said.

All full-time students with a loan at the bank will receive a payment holiday over the same period at 0% interest and with zero fees, Standard Bank said.

“This, we hope, will relieve cash flow constraints currently caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Standard Bank South Africa Chief Executive Lungisa Fuzile.

$1 = 17.5981 rand Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg Editing by David Holmes

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