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LOPEZ: BANKS SHOULD COMPETE TO GIVE BEST SERVICE

DTI to oppose ATM fee increase

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will oppose an increase in the fee for withdrawing cash from automated teller machines (ATMs) following the lifting of the cap on the charge, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Reacting to reports that banks were poised to charge more for interbank withdrawal fees, Lopez said on Tuesday night that customers should not shoulder the adjustments.

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Moratorium lifted

While ATM withdrawal is free from the bank customers are enrolled in, they have to pay a transaction fee of P10 to P15 when getting cash from the ATMs of other banks and P2 for balance inquiry.

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The lifting of the six-year moratorium on fee increases has prompted a lawmaker in the House of Representatives to call for an inquiry, fearing as much as a 50-percent hike that would be an added cost to millions of ATM cardholders.

“On the news of ATM fees, bank customers should not bear higher costs because ATM operations should in fact be an added service, and banks should compete to give the best service possible,” Lopez said.

Without disclosing any figures, he said the department expected people to use ATMs less as more Filipinos were patronizing online payments.

‘Highway robbery’

“At any rate, we expect declining use of ATM as the digital wallet and e-payment system gets to be mainstreamed soon, [which will] be used by more and more Filipinos,” Lopez said.

The Partido ng Manggagawa said doubling the ATM fees would be tantamount to “highway robbery” as it would allow banks to take 6 to 8 percent of the minimum wage of workers per withdrawal.

The central bank played down consumer fears, saying it would not allow banks to increase transaction charges to exorbitant levels.

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The Bankers’ Association of the Philippines has said that commercial, thrift and rural banks cannot unilaterally adjust ATM fees. They have to get an approval from the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) to raise ATM fees.

The BSP said it would thoroughly review all applications for fee increases.

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TAGS: ATM fee increase, DTI, Ramon Lopez
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