ATM house probe charge view
MEMBERS of the House of Representatives are considering investigating the increasing increase in ATM fees after monetary authorities lifted a moratorium on a similar hike, which has been taking place since September 2013, last month.
These fees can be increased to P15 to P30 for each interbank withdrawal from the current P10 to P15 once implemented.
According to Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, there is no reason for banks to impose these increased fees on depositors.
"We need to remind the banks that the money has been withdrawn from their own [ATMs] are money borrowed from depositors. That's why banks pay interest on deposits, "Pimentel said in a statement Tuesday.
"It is no coincidence that we see no excuse for banks to charge ATM fees above P10 to P15 that they are currently collecting for an interbank towing operation, given that depositors simply take the money they borrow from the bank," he added.
P10 to P15 "convenience fee" for each download may be "minimal and acceptable", but this may be followed by other charges, according to the legislator.
"In addition, banks are already collecting too many excess fees from depositors, including the monthly fees of P300 to P500 paid on accounts under
P10,000 to P25,000 minimum daily average balance, not to mention inactive account compliance fees, "Pimentel said.
The investigation must decide where such allegations go and why the BSP decided to lift the moratorium, he added.
Pimentel's statement comes after Makati City spokesman Luis Campos Jr. said Monday that such fees could potentially harm about 58 million ATM holders. They include 4.1 million minimum-wage employees who receive and withdraw salaries twice a month through their ATMs, he added.
Campos tabled Parliament Resolution 210, requesting an investigation that would be "in accordance with the state's obligation under the 1992 law to protect the interests and general well-being of consumers and to set standards of conduct for business."
The resolution came after Bangkok Central Pilipinas (BSP) issued a Memorandum M-2019-020 or "Removing the ATM Charge Moratorium" on July 19.
The legislator cites a study showing that banks charge between P10 and P15 for one interbank withdrawal and P2 for each interbank balance study.
"In this case, we are strongly bound by the Consumer Act [of the Philippines], "Or Republic of 7394, to conduct an investigation to protect the rights of ATM users," said Campos.
Regulatory approval is required
In a statement Tuesday, the BSP clarified that banks must secure regulatory approval before withdrawing ATM fees and assured "the public that its policy on
ATM charges are guided by industry best practices and are determined by the wider well-being of consumers. "
The Central Bank has stressed that it has issued regulations requiring banks to adhere to the principles of reasonable and market-based pricing in their ATM operations.
"As such, banks cannot increase the ATM fee on their own. In fact, any bank that intends to adjust ATM fees must submit its request to the BSP, indicating their proposed fees, as well as the costs currently incurred by the bank in connection with its ATM activities, "she explained.
The declared costs must be clear, properly supported and, where necessary, approved by the regulatory authorities, according to Bangko Sentral, who stressed that the imposition of certain fees arising from agreements between market participants is not allowed.
"In any case, these fees should be lower than the fees collected from over-the-counter transactions and should be consistent with transparency in pricing," the statement said.
The BSP also said that any request for an increase in ATM fees would be considered and decided if the increase was justified to cover the cost of maintaining the machines.
WITH MAVELIN U. CARABALLO