The European Central Bank said Friday it will accept lower-quality securities as collateral for loans made to banks without demanding higher cash collateral, as had been the case in the past.

The ECB said the move was meant to improve the access of the banking sector to Eurosystem operations in order to further support the provision of credit to households and nonfinancial corporations.

The high-quality rating threshold the bank formerly used to determine the elegibility of certain asset-backed securities, such as bonds backed by auto loans, industrial leases, credit card receipts and mortgages, was lowered in the action. Banks borrowing from the ECB using lower-quality versions of these assets will still have to pledge cash collateral, but the amount requested has been decreased.

The move, foreshadowed by media reports Thursday, felt short of some predictions, which saw the bank easing collateral rules on sovereign debt, as well as asset-backed securities.