The European Central Bank is set to reward some of the region’s biggest financial institutions with more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) this year in return for keeping up the flow of credit during the pandemic.

Six lenders including ING Groep NV and Deutsche Bank AG have disclosed their expected benefit from the central bank’s targeted longer-term loan programs. Together, the banks said they earned about 416 million euros in the first quarter while other lenders said they intend to book gains later in the year.

Seven years after turning banking on its head with the introduction of negative interest rates, the ECB is dangling enhanced subsidies to get banks to pump cheap cash into an economy lurching from one crisis to another. The benefits help offset some of the pressure from the ECB’s other policies which have eaten into lending profits and introduced costs for client deposits.