Latvijas Banka, in cooperation with its partners, has prepared an information brochure on critical financial services. Individuals are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the information on what financial services are to be provided by commercial banks in a situation of crisis, what they can do to better prepare for a crisis situation and what should be borne in mind to protect their money.
Over the last 18 months, the word combination "business continuity" has made its way not only to the forefront of expert attention, but also to the core of the public debate. The business continuity issues of the financial sector remain consistently on the agenda of Latvijas Banka, focusing also on the various challenges people are less aware of, such as cyber security, the continuity of the cash cycle and the use of payment facilities also in different crisis situations. As a result of the war started by Russia, these issues have taken on a new importance and have also come to the forefront of public interest.
"A crisis usually occurs unexpectedly; however, the recent years have shown how important it is to prepare for different life situations. We do it both as a country and in the financial sector, and we encourage everyone to take care of oneself and one's loved ones. It is of great importance to be well informed since uncertainty is the biggest source of panic in a situation of crisis that might trigger a sequence of unwise decisions causing financial losses. We encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the information prepared by Latvijas Banka and follow its advice and guidance," stresses Ilze Posuma, Member of the Council of Latvijas Banka.
"The Latvian banking sector has taken a significant step towards strengthening public resilience and action in situations of crisis. We in the Ministry of Defence are satisfied that the Latvian banking sector is aware of its role and significance in developing and strengthening a comprehensive national defence system so that people would have access to financial services in times of crisis and their money would be safe. The preparation of this brochure has been the result of a planned effort that will mostly bring benefits to the population being provided with the useful information to use it to its advantage," points out Jānis Garisons, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defence.
Latvijas Banka has made the preparations to ensure that all critical financial services will be provided in Latvia in case of a threat to national security or a situation of large external effects: 1) making payments via internet banking or mobile application, 2) making payments by payment cards, including online payments, and 3) cash withdrawals from ATMs.
Overall, financial services will be (whenever possible) provided by all Latvian commercial banks in crisis situations. Critical financial services are to be provided by the credit institutions with the largest number of Latvian customers and volumes of household deposits: Swedbank AS, AS SEB banka, AS Citadele banka and Latvian branch of Luminor Bank AS.
It has been established that 99 of the ATMs of these credit institutions are the so-called critical ATMs in Latvia to be supplied with cash first in case of a threat. The location map of these ATMs is available here.
We encourage people to take a particularly critical look at the information provided and rely only on reliable sources of information, not to succumb to provocations and misinformation, as well as not to fall victim to fraud not only in times of crisis, but also when the responsible authorities inform about critical financial services.
The information brochure entitled "What do I have to know about cash and other financial services in a situation of crisis" is available here (in Latvian only): https://datnes.latvijasbanka.lv/files/Kritisko-pakalpojumu-buklets-Latvijas-Banka.pdf.
In 2020, the Ministry of Defence published a brochure entitled "What to do in case of a crisis" aimed at helping the public prepare for potential crisis situations and providing useful information on where to seek assistance and the latest information. At the same time, an updated version of the brochure entitled "What to do in case of a crisis" was published in 2022 to also provide practical guidance for strengthening security in cases of different threats.