Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.
That became evident late last week when the Cooperative Credit Union Association and the Massachusetts Bankers Association, and the Maine Credit Union League and the Maine Bankers Association, issued joint news releases to assure members and customers that the financial services industry is strong, safe and secure, and that they are prepared to help individuals, families and businesses make it through financial hardships caused by the coronavirus crisis.
“Generally speaking, we agree on about 92% of all the issues, particularly on major things like this; we’ve done things like this in the past,” Daniel J. Forte, president/CEO of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, said. “The safest place to keep your money is in a bank or credit union. Us old timers went through this back in 1999 with Y2K when some were claiming the world was going to end. People who took out cash were getting robbed.”
One of the Y2K concerns in 1999 was that computerized systems used by banking and other industries would not be able to recognize “00” as the year 2000. As a result, there were fears that it would cause financial transaction problems, which scared some people to withdraw large sums of cash from their accounts. Of course, those Y2K fears never materialized.
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Although there has been an anecdote or two that people are withdrawing large amounts of cash because of uncertainties over the coronavirus crisis, Forte said, he’s not seeing problems at this point.
Ron McLean, president/CEO of the Cooperative Credit Union Association, also said credit unions have not seen anyone make major withdrawals from their accounts.
“In many cases, there has been a flight to safety where many members are putting more money into their credit unions,” McLean said.
He pointed out the joint release was a proactive measure to assure members and customers Massachusetts credit unions and banks are ready and able to meet their members’ needs during this challenging time.
“We will do what we’ve always done, help consumers, families, business and communities, no matter the situation,” he said.
While the joint statement reminded consumers that banks and credit unions are well capitalized and that their deposits are insured up to $250,000 on each account by the NCUA and FDIC, the state trade groups discouraged consumers from making large cash withdrawals, reminding them that the safest transactions are through online and mobile banking, credit and debit cards, electronic payments and ATMs.
The joint statement released by the Maine Credit Union League and the Maine Bankers Association, also assured consumers the financial system in that state is strong, safe and is prepared to help everyone through financial hardships from the COVID-19 crisis.
“We must do everything we can to limit the spread of coronavirus,” Todd Mason, president/CEO of MCUL and Chris Pinkham, president of MBA, said in a joint statement. “That’s why our organizations are collaborating to educate the public about all of the secure and fully-insured banking options available to them every day, and especially during this challenging time.”
To stem the spread of the coronavirus, financial institutions are closing off access to branches but are providing drive-thru teller services. ATMs are fully operational for transactions as well. Financial institutions are also offering an appointment-only option for consumers who need to visit a branch for other banking services.