Bank of Israel to offer non-bank credit deals to COVID-hit small businesses

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Economy8 hours ago (Dec 13, 2020 06:20AM ET)

© Reuters. People wear protective face masks as they shop at a market amid Israel’s second-wave coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Jerusalem

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Bank of Israel said on Sunday it would start offering repo transactions with supervised non-bank credit providers to increase the supply of credit to very small businesses struggling to borrow due to the COVID-19 crisis.

It said the new monetary tool would begin operating in the first week of January, with the objective of boosting credit supply to these businesses beyond what is issued by banks.

These non-bank providers, such as credit card companies and institutions, would be supervised by the Bank of Israel or the Finance Ministry’s capital markets division.

“In view of the crisis, lowering the cost of the financing source for non-bank credit providers will create an incentive for them and contribute to the pass-through from the general interest rate in the economy to the interest paid by small and micro businesses for the credit issued to them,” the central bank said.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic the central bank has attempted to help small businesses by way of very low interest rate loans to banks, while allowing loan repayment deferments.

As part of the repo transactions, the Bank of Israel will receive tradable collateral from the credit card and other providers, including government bills and bonds and corporate bonds under certain criteria.

The interest rate will be set at 0.1% percent and subject to the provision of credit to small and micro businesses at interest of up to prime plus 1.3% percent and fixed at a rate of -0.1%.

The transactions will be for 6 months, with the possibility of an additional 6-month period under the same terms, the bank central bank said.

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