BSP: Bank online transfer fees waived until year-end
At least 31 banks and financial institutions will continue to waive fees for online fund transfers for the rest of the year to encourage the public to transact through digital channels, according to the central bank.
A few others extended their fee waivers just to the end of October, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a tweet on Wednesday, the eve of the supposed restoration of the transaction fees.
“With digital transactions as the norm amid the coronavirus pandemic, we thank the … members of [the Philippine Payments Management Inc., or PPMI] for extending their waiver of fees for InstaPay and PesoNet,” he said. “This will go a long way in our road to recovery.”
InstaPay and PesoNet are private entities operated by a consortium of financial institutions.
InstaPay is operated by Bancnet and counts several BSP-supervised financial institutions as its members. PesoNet is operated by the Philippine Clearing House Corp., with banks as members.
Both entities are overseen by the PPMI, which also sets the rules for their operations.
Financial institutions that decided to waive transfer fees for the rest of the year include Asia United Bank, Bank of Commerce, Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank, Citibank (for retail clients), CTBC Bank (Philippines) Corp., DCPay (for retail clients), Development Bank of the Philippines, Eastwest Bank, Equicom Savings Bank, HSBC Savings Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Maybank Philippines (for retail clients) and Metrobank.
Also waiving their fees till the year-end are Philippine Business Bank, Philippine National Bank, Philippine Savings Bank, Philippine Veterans Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Robinsons Bank Corp., Rural Bank of Guinobatan, Security Bank Corp., Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank of Asia, Union Bank of the Philippines and United Coconut Planters Bank.
Originally up to Sept. 30
Philippine Bank of Communications will be charging P1 for transfers via its online portal due to system constraints, while Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. will be reducing its transfer fees for corporate accounts to P50.
Bank transfers made on GCash, MUFG Bank and Paymaya will continue to be free of charge until Oct. 31.
The broad waiver was imposed in July as part of the banks’ contribution to the government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in hopes of encouraging more people to transact digitally and thus, stay in the relative safety of their homes.
It was originally meant to last until Sept. 30, when the transaction fees would have been restored.
Sen. Imee Marcos said banks and financial technology companies could afford to suspend the fees for a longer period beyond October, and “until the last half of next year” when a vaccine against the coronavirus might be available.
“Digital payment systems will become even more popular and profitable due to limited public mobility during the pandemic,” Marcos said.
The extension would be a big help in promoting the growth of small businesses, she said, noting that more digital transaction fees could curb people’s online spending.
“Those who were gainfully employed have been forced to find an alternative means of livelihood online. Let’s promote the growth of small businesses during this crisis,” Marcos said.
She also called for the suspension of service charges of P15 for money transfers, P20 for over-the-counter transactions and for cash withdrawals via Mastercard, and fintech fees of 1-2 percent on cash-in and over-the-counter transactions of P8,000 and above.
Sen. Sonny Angara said continuing the fee waivers would help ease the burden on many consumers and to reduce the need for physical transactions “during this very challenging time.”
“Right now, every family is penny pinching due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic so every peso saved goes a long way,” he said in a statement.
He said the government was doing all it could to help the sectors crippled by the pandemic.
Waiving fees for digital transactions would help, he added. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA