With growing concerns and impacts of COVID-19, I wanted to provide you with an update on Central 1’s response and actions to date and our commitment to you going forward. These are unprecedented and challenging times for everyone, and the health and well-being of our employees, members, clients, and communities are a top priority for Central 1.
First and foremost, I want to reassure you that Central 1 is ready to maintain essential products and services, protecting our critical business functions for the credit union system and our clients. We have robust IT infrastructure and remote working capabilities for our employees, so we can continue to support you, your customers, and our day-to-day operations.
Central 1 has activated elements of our Pandemic Management Plan. We are focusing on the health and safety of our employees and ensuring we can continue to provide you with the levels of service you need and expect from us. Our teams have also been in contact with many of our partners and suppliers who provide important services to Central 1, to confirm their readiness, and work with them to mitigate any potential challenges.
We continually monitor our Digital Banking and Payments platforms for performance and stability. We are confident our systems, including MemberDirect and Forge, are ready to handle increased traffic as more of your members and customers take advantage of online and mobile banking as well as digital payment options. In November, we performed an extensive and successful disaster recovery exercise for all key Central 1 systems including those that support Digital Banking, Payments, Originations and Treasury services. I recognize these are unprecedented times, and therefore our teams are prepared to react quickly to mitigate any unforeseen challenges that may arise as a result of significant usage or increase in volumes.
We are committed to supporting, where possible, the social distancing recommended by Canadian public health authorities to safeguard our employees, especially those team members who are required to work from our offices to maintain specific services. We have added precautionary and safety measures, including:
- encouraging employees to work from home, and enabling them with the right technology and resources;
- ensuring limited access to areas within our building where essential employees are located;
- increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of our offices;
- requiring employees to stay home if they are sick or have any symptoms; and
- mandatory protocols, including requiring employees who travel outside of Canada to self-isolate for 14 days after their return.
In addition, we have restricted business travel and are reducing the number of face-to-face meetings with our members and clients. While we know this may have some potential to be disruptive to your teams, you have our commitment that we will continue to be available to you via digital meetings, teleconferences or email.
We also recognize that our economy is showing signs of distress, with emergency rate cuts and extreme market volatility. Our Treasury team is monitoring the impacts of how a weaker economy and a lower rate environment could potentially impact the system and we are ready to support you. From a liquidity standpoint, we have not observed any unusual liquidity activities from the credit union system. Prior to the events of the last few weeks, overall liquidity in the system was high relative to historical norms.
Central 1 is currently well positioned to provide support to credit unions if and when needed. Our portfolio team has actively increased the proportion of short term and cash assets over the last month to maximize the flexibility and responsiveness of Central 1 to any increased credit union liquidity needs. On Tuesday, March 17 at 2PM ET/11 AM PT, our Treasury team will be holding a call to speak to these topics and more. I encourage you to join us. You can reach out to Treasury@central1.com and we will send you more details.
Lastly, our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by COVID-19, as well as to the public health organizations and front-line health care workers for their tireless efforts. I would also like to thank you, our system partners, and our employees for supporting each other.
These are uncertain times for everyone, and Central 1 will continue to monitor this extraordinary situation very closely and adjust as needed. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out directly to me, to your client relationship manager, or Member Relations.
President & CEO