Half the people in Austria have debts that are not backed by real estate.
Consumer credit and overdrawn accounts make up the largest part of these debts. In 2018, up to 150,000 people with more than 10,000 euros in liabilities each were not able to repay this sum over a long period of time. The Austrian debt report stated that 22.7 per cent of clients of debt counselling services were under 30 years old. The consequences of over-indebtedness can make people ill and destroy their livelihoods. In 2019, more than 10,000 private bankruptcy proceedings were initiated in Austria, with 12.1 per cent of all those affected being 30 years old or younger. At the same time, particularly older people, people with low incomes and people with non-Austrian citizenship often have only limited access to basic financial services such as an account, insurance and a simple loan.
Zweite Sparkasse: Am Schweizer Garten in Vienna, photo: ERSTE Foundation
what can we do?
We have established a new bank that does not aim to make a profit and is committed to the savings bank idea of serving the public good.
Its voluntary staff members dedicate time and patience to assisting people in difficult financial situations on their path to a life without debt. All customers of Zweite Sparkasse (Second Savings Bank) are supported by NGOs that recommend them to the bank. They receive a basic current account including bank card and access to Erste Bank und Sparkassen’s online banking service, George. In cooperation with Wiener Städtische Versicherung, the bank is also able to offer free accident insurance and a legal advice service, available once per quarter. Customers may open a savings account and take out a building loan contract (Bausparvertrag) free of charge and homeowner’s insurance at an affordable premium. Zweite Sparkasse also cooperates with debt counselling services to offer an “assisted account” to people who are legally competent but have difficulty managing their money. Since 2020 services have also included a micro-loan for people who cannot immediately raise the full deposit when moving into a new home. Zweite Sparkasse operates branch offices throughout Austria.
“Die Zweite Wiener Vereins-Sparcasse supports people who need a helping hand. Because sometimes you just can’t do it on your own.”
Why are we doing this?
Because we were already very successful with it 200 years ago.
Similar to ERSTE Foundation’s predecessor Erste österreichische Spar-Casse, which was founded as the first Austrian savings bank in 1819, Zweite Sparkasse helps people get back on their feet financially. In 2006, Zweite Sparkasse was ERSTE Foundation’s first project aimed at promoting financial health. It enables people who believe in themselves to regain a sound financial footing. Since Zweite Sparkasse was founded in 2006, it has helped some 18,000 people in Austria overcome their financial difficulties. More than 4,000 customers have successfully switched from Zweite Sparkasse to another bank.
Cooperation Partners: Erste Bank und Sparkassen, Wiener Städtische Versicherung
Partner NGOs: Schuldnerberatungen (debt counselling services), Caritas, AhZ – Arbeit hat Zukunft, aktion leben österreich, “Anonyme Spieler” support group, Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Wien, ARGE SOZIAL VILLACH, dialog, Wiener Hilfswerk, Domestic Abuse Intervention Centre Vienna, itworks Personalservice, Lighthouse Wien, neunerHAUS, NEUSTART, Austrian Red Cross, PIVA – Project Group for the Integration of Foreign Nationals, Schuldnerhilfe OÖ, SOS Children’s Villages, Soziale Arbeit gGmbH, Spielsuchthilfe, Tabea Lebenshilfe, TRENDwerk, VinziDach, Volkshilfe Wien, Volkshilfe Beschäftigung, Wiener Berufs-Börse, Jugend am Werk, BIKU-Treff
Public Partners: City of Vienna MA 40, municipal administration of the city of Graz – social services department, addiction counselling of the city of Klagenfurt
Established and opened: 2006
Founding capital: EUR 5.8 million, provided by ERSTE Foundation
Customers: ca. 18.000 (seit 2006)
Customers who have successfully switched to another bank: more than 4,000