The Swiss National Bank said on Monday it had set up a swap agreement with the National Bank of Poland to help Polish banks, which have issued many franc-denominated mortgages, if they cannot get francs in the markets.
The Swiss National Bank has previously concluded swap deals with other central banks to ensure banks abroad have access to francs, which can become harder to obtain as investors seek the currency as a safe haven in financial or geopolitical crises and as banks become more wary of lending to each other.
“The two central banks do not anticipate that this agreement, which has been concluded as a precautionary measure, will need to be called upon,” the Swiss National Bank said.
The terms for the swaps, which require SNB approval, will be one week.
Due to low interest rates in Switzerland, where the SNB’s benchmark lending rate has been at rock-bottom since early 2009, many borrowers in Eastern Europe have taken out mortgage loans in francs.
About 50 per cent of all home mortgage loans in Poland were in francs, according to official data from late last year.
The Polish government has also issued bonds denominated in Swiss francs, raising foreign demand for francs.