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Lawmaker seeks inquiry into looming ATM fee hike

/ 01:06 PM August 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A House inquiry on the looming increase in automated teller machine (ATM) fees is being pushed by Makati City 2nd District Rep. Luis Campos Jr., after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) lifted a six- year moratorium.

In a statement Monday, Campos warned that the increase in ATM charges might affect the more than 58 million ATM cardholders in the country.

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“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,” Campos said, as he pushed for House Resolution No. 210 which asked the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries to look into the matter.

On July 19, 2019, the BSP issued Memorandum No. M-2019-020 lifting the moratorium on automated teller machine (ATM) fees.

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Banks had wanted to increase ATM charges by as much as 50 percent before the BSP enforced the moratorium in 2013, Campos said.

He also said that 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.

The BSP earlier reminded banks to impose “reasonable and market-based” pricing.

“The amount to be charged to a cardholder should be clearly displayed on the ATM location and on the screen of the ATM terminal. The notice should clearly indicate that the amount displayed is on top of the charges that may be imposed by the card issuer,” BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said in a memorandum to banks.

READ: Keep ATM fees reasonable, BSP tells banks

‘Virtual monopoly’

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In his resolution, Campos also pointed out the virtual monopoly in the network that interconnects the country’s 21,682 ATMs.

ExpressNet Inc. outsourced its ATM network to BancNet Inc. in 2008, and BancNet and MegaLink Inc. merged their ATM networks in 2015, with BancNet as the surviving entity, while MegaLink has since been repurposed, Campos said.

“In this case, we are clearly compelled under The Consumer Act, or Republic Act 7394, to conduct an inquiry so as to safeguard the rights of ATM users,” the Makati representative said. /gsg

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TAGS: hike in ATM fees, House inquiry, Luis Campos
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