Following the advice of national health authorities
for persons to remain indoors as much as possible, the Central Bank of Malta
has today issued a Directive on important measures concerning cheques which will
primarily enable persons to avoid visiting bank branches and other financial
service providers, by depositing them through trusted third parties.
The measures were introduced after consultation
with the commercial banks as a temporary measure during the current pandemic
restrictions and will come into force on 26 March 2020.
Directive 17 is aimed at maintaining
banking services essential to the life of the community. They spell out minimum
services expectations to be provided by commercial banks and financial
The most important change affects the use of
cheques which will no longer require direct deposit by the beneficiary. As from
26 March, those cheques marked as “only” for use by the beneficiary can – until
further notice – be deposited by a trusted third party of the beneficiary.
This can be done in two ways:
- The beneficiary can instruct the
trusted person to make the deposit directly into the beneficiary’s account.
- The beneficiary can also instruct the
trusted person to make the deposit into the trusted person’s own bank account
via an ATM. This should be particularly helpful for those beneficiaries who do
not have a bank account.
These measures are aimed to help those persons who
either cannot leave their home, or who have been advised not to do so by the
health authorities. Basically, it provides a remedy for a section of the
population who will be receiving their social security benefits, including
pensions, in the form of a cheque from the Government.
The new Directive also takes into account the
concerns of commercial banks with regards to the wellbeing of their own staff,
and places emphasis on the use of ATMs to reduce the number of people who need
to rely on over-the-counter services. Since banks may also be working with
limited resources, the amount of time taken to clear cheques and drafts has
been extended temporarily to a maximum of six days, while cash deposits may take
up to three days to be processed.
To reduce the number of customers inside branches,
all banks are now authorised to restrict over-the-counter cash withdrawals from
a deposit account associated with a payment card unless the amount exceeds
In the meantime, banks and financial institutions
must provide over-the-counter cash deposit services for all those customers who
do not have any other access to alternatives such as ATMs. These customers are
encouraged to obtain access to such alternatives offered by the financial
These are just some of the measures being taken by
institutions in the financial sector to support the health authorities’
guidance to reduce the need for people to go outdoors, and to maintain social
distancing. Banks have also increased the limit for non-authenticated
contactless cards to €50.
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