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House probe on looming ATM fee hikes

Keith A. Calayag

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The House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries is set to investigate the looming increases in automated teller machine fees amid the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) lifting of a 2013 moratorium order suspending ATM fee hikes.

Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. has filed House Resolution 210, enabling the inquiry into the order of the BSP allowing banks to adjust the fees they charge for ATM services.

In the resolution, Campos said it is the State’s duty to protect the interests and general welfare of consumers and to establish standards of conduct for business.

“We are worried that the forthcoming increases in ATM charges might harm consumers — the nation’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders.”

“Even more vulnerable are our estimated 4.1 million minimum wage earners. Many of them receive and withdraw their salaries twice a month through their ATM cards at the machine nearest them,” the resolution stated.

The BSP issued Memorandum M-2019020 “Lifting the Moratorium on Automated Teller Machine Fees” on 19 July.

Based on the order signed by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonancier, banks will only have to inform the BSP about their proposed ATM fees based on the costs incurred with respect to their ATM activities.

The order also states that banks should disclose the amount to be charged to a cardholder.
According to Campos, banks had wanted to jack up their ATM charges by as much as 50 percent before the BSP enforced the moratorium on ATM fee increases in 2013.

In the resolution, Campos said a survey of ATM fees would indicate that banks currently charge between P10 to P15 per single interbank withdrawal transaction, and P2 per single interbank balance inquiry.

“These charges could jump to as much as P15 to P30 per single interbank withdrawal, possibly even higher, with the removal of the moratorium,” Campos warned.

In his resolution, Campos also pointed out “that there now exists a virtual monopoly in the network that interconnects all of the country’s 21,682 ATMs,” thus the matter should be probed so as to safeguard the rights of ATM users under Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act.

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