Standard Chartered Bank will offer a range of options to help customers caught in a negative equity trap, according to chief executive and general manager Peter Wong Tung-shun. Interest rates on refinanced loan packages could be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and reduced to as low as prime minus 1 per cent or 2 per cent, Mr Wong said. The bank would also consider other options aimed at reducing the burden on homeowners, including extending the tenure of loans, accelerating principal reduction, and an interest-only payment option. 'As a bank that has been committed to Hong Kong for a long time, we have a social responsibility to help those in need,' Mr Wong said. The strategy would not be aimed at luring customers from rivals but at bringing relief to the bank's clients. Extending loan tenure could reduce monthly repayments to more manageable levels, said Andy Hon, general manager, mortgages and vehicles for Standard Chartered Bank. 'Monthly payments can be reduced by 10 per cent if the tenure is extended by five years,' Mr Hon said. The tenure could be shortened again once the customer's financial situation improved. Those customers who had surplus cash could also elect to pay off some of their principal, he said. Another option aimed at reducing the burden of clients in negative equity would be to offer a short-term opportunity to pay only the interest on their loans, Mr Hon said. 'This option can help customers reduce up to 30 to 50 per cent of their monthly payments for the next 12 months,' he said.