Given the pandemic and the current macroeconomic situation, I am treating these results as a huge success for us. From the beginning of the pandemic, we actively searched for solutions that could respond to entirely new challenges. First, we took care of elementary safety of our employees and Customers. We introduced split teams, and 95 percent of the workforce was immediately adapted for remote work. At our branches, we deployed appropriate protective measures and paid attention to social distancing. In effect, 99.4 percent of BNP Paribas Bank Polska S.A. branches were and are open to Customers.
We considerably accelerated the digitalisation of our services, going beyond the ordinary and setting completely new standards. From May 2020, everyone can schedule a meeting with an adviser at a branch, to talk about investments or mortgage loans, through the Booksy application, previously associated with beauty and hairdressing services. In collaboration with Autenti, we implemented solutions that make it possible to sign documents without having to exchange paper copies between the Bank and the Customer. In combination with the option to open an account using a video verification, we get a modern vision of banking, but one that is no longer out of reach. It became reality thanks to our innovativeness and hard work.
We were not indifferent to the problems of our Customers and the economy as a whole. During the pandemic’s first wave – already in March, even before statutory proposals materialised, as part of the initiative of the Polish banking sector, BNP Paribas Bank Polska S.A. offered the possibility to suspend the repayment of principal and interest. Our Customers were able to submit applications for subsidies from the Polish Development Fund (PFR) through the online banking system and had access to two guarantee programs on preferential terms – the de minimis program and the Liquidity Guarantee Fund – provided by the Polish development Bank BGK. I have no doubt that we passed the test of solidarity very well in these difficult times.
Uninterrupted financing of flagship investments in the country was of great importance to us. Instead of freezing it, we expanded our Customer portfolio and completed further projects. I say this with great satisfaction – most of the investments that we finance have a positive economic, social and environmental impact.
The emergence of new challenges did not distract us from other topics of fundamental meaning for our planet. We continue to advocate green initiatives and remain the Bank for a Changing World. To further enhance our actions aimed at implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, we established a special unit – the Sustainability Council. Its aim is to define our ESG strategy and ensure that its objectives are embedded in our competences and in our product and service offering. In 2021, we will emphasise our social engagement even more. We have many objectives ahead – and we can only achieve them by uniting in common action. I deeply believe that in this way we, as a society, will be able to face global challenges and, as a Bank, we will be able to deliver new ambitious ventures.