Picture by Dainius Labutis (ELTA)
On July 17th, country’s commercial banks, including Medicinos Bankas, and the Bank of Lithuania signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Good Practice during the Preparation for the Adoption of the Euro (hereinafter – Memorandum). Within the framework of this Memorandum, banks have made a commitment to serve customers at their divisions longer during the most intense changeover period, provide favorable conditions for deposition of litas in bank accounts, and apply other measures so that residents and businesses could exchange their money as smoothly as possible.
“Banks will play a crucial role in the exchange of litas into euro. To simplify this process for the residents and businesses, the Bank of Lithuania has initiated the Memorandum. It encompasses the essential aspects of the banking business, which could help avoid “jams” and the associated waste of time and negative emotions, as the flow of customer increases”, says Vitas Vasiliauskas, Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania. He also added that the increased need for residents and businesses to exchange considerable amounts of cash shall require from the banking sector the extra effort and focus, goodwill and joint understanding of the goals.
“By signing the Memorandum we confirm that we will seek to create the most favorable conditions for our customers to exchange litas into euro. Medicinos Bankas shall take part in the frontloading of circulating euro banknotes and coins; during the intense exchange period, it plans to extend working hours in its customer service divisions. Moreover, the bank has already designated divisions that will exchange litas into euro free of charge up until the end of 2015. Currently, information technology systems of the bank are being updated, intense preparatory procedures are being carried out, i.e. the necessary preparations are being made so that the process of adoption of the euro is smooth and consistent in the bank”, says Gintaras Treinys, Chief Executive Officer of Medicinos Bankas.
“The banks are well aware that the adoption of the euro is not only a technically challenging, but also socially sensitive process; therefore, during the introductory period, they will extend working hours of their customer service divisions, where possible, and allocate additional technical and human resources to make sure that the process of adoption of the euro is smooth and convenient for customers”, says Stasys Kropas, President of the Association of Lithuanian Banks.
According to S. Kropas, the updated information technology systems are capable of significantly reducing the loads incurred by physical bank divisions; thus both today and during the adoption period, bank customers are encouraged to use electronic means of payment, thereby minimizing problems associated with cash exchange.
During the intense currency exchange period at the end of this year and at the beginning of the next year, the banks that have signed the Memorandum will extend working hours of their customer service divisions, depending on customer flows, and, where technically possible, enable customers to exchange cash litas into euro during the second half of 1 January 2015 and throughout January 3-4 (weekend). At the end of 2014 and during the first days of the euro adoption, the banks will also increase the number of employees carrying out cash exchange operations as well as apply other organizational measures to ensure smooth currency exchange.
Executives of the banks and the Bank of Lithuania also agreed on the network of bank divisions to cover the entire territory of the 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 will be approved by the Board of the Bank of Lithuania in the near future.
To ensure proper service of residents, smooth operation of banks and cash-in-transit companies during the frontloading of euro banknotes and coins as well as during the first days of the euro adoption, the Bank of Lithuania is going to extend working hours of its divisions that serve both banks and residents, open customer service cash offices on 1 and 3 January 2015, and, if necessary, to work on other rest days and holidays.
Having taken into consideration the limited ability of small trade and service businesses to provide for the necessary funds for collateral against euro and to ensure the appropriate storage of funds obtained during the frontloading period, the banks have made a commitment to provide favorable conditions for small businesses to acquire euro banknotes and coins during the last five calendar days of 2014.
The Memorandum was signed with the Bank of Lithuania by the following banks performing cash transactions: Citadele Bankas, Danske Bank, DNB Bankas, Finasta, Medicinos Bankas, Nordea, SEB Bankas, Swedbank and Šiaulių Bankas.