Greek banks face three main challenges in 2019, top bank executive says

A further reduction of non-performing loans, financing the real economy and a digital transformation are the three main challenges facing Greek banks in 2019, a top executive in a systemic bank told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Monday.

The executive said that action to address all three challenges is underway and that the first positive results were already visible, while warning that there could be no complacency or any relaxation of efforts. He said that Greek banks were currently “midway” towards completing the huge task of reducing NPLs from 85 billion euros at present to 33 billion euros in 2021 and stressed that this reduction will be achieved through the sale and securitisation of loans (50 pct), auctions/liquidation of real estate property (25-30 pct) and debt settlement (20 pct). He noted that results so far were significant, given that NPLs totaled 107 billion euros in March 2016.

Systemic banks are also focusing on financing the real economy, households and enterprises, the executive said, adding that the problem of low credit in the economy was mostly the result of low demand by households and enterprises. The executive noted that, according to estimates, 2019 will be the first year of positive credit expansion in the economy after several years of negative rates.

Greek systemic banks are seeking to complete a digital transformation of their operations and are planning to spend around 900 million to 1.0 billion euros on upgrading of their technology infrastructure in the next three years.