Coronavirus: Central Bank steps in with directive to ease cheque deposits for people who cannot leave home because of health restrictions

Directive 17 issued by the Central Bank allows cheques marked as ‘only’ for use by the beneficiary to be deposited by a trusted third party of the beneficiary

Central Bank of Malta has issued Directive 17 to allow people who cannot leave their house to have their cheques deposited by a trusted third party
Central Bank of Malta has issued Directive 17 to allow people who cannot leave their house to have their cheques deposited by a trusted third party

People receiving payment in cheques will be able to instruct a third party to deposit it directly into their account, the Central Bank of Malta said.

The decision, known as Directive 17, will come into force from 26 March and is targeted primarily at pensioners and beneficiaries of social services who receive benefits via cheques.

The directive means that any cheques marked as ‘only’ for use by the beneficiary can be deposited by a trusted third party of the beneficiary.

The CBM said the beneficiary can instruct the trusted person to make the deposit directly into the beneficiary’s account. But the beneficiary can also instruct the trusted person to make the deposit into the trusted person’s own bank account via an ATM.

The measure is intended to alleviate the inconvenience for individuals, especially the more vulnerable, at a time when restrictions are in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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… 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 CBM said.

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.

The CBM said that since banks will 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 €500.

However, 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.

Banks have also increased the limit for non-authenticated contactless cards to €50.

More in National