Congress passes bill giving BSP more powers to protect financial consumers

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2022 08:39 PM

 A bank client gets money from an ATM. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
A bank client gets money from an ATM. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Before adjourning on Wednesday for the election campaign, Congress approved the Financial Consumer Protection Act, which gives the central bank greater powers over financial institutions. 

The Senate approved its version of the measure on third and final reading, having been certified as urgent by the President. The House adopted the Senate version as amendments to its own version, foregoing the need for a bicameral conference committee and paving the way for the bill to be sent to the President for signature.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno had been calling for the passage of the measure, which gained further urgency amid scams targeting online transactions, and following the hacking of a major bank.

Under the current system, the BSP is only limited to receiving complaints from victims of fraud, while the investigation lies with the banks or financial institutions concerned. A consumer group has said that this process was long and arduous and disadvantageous to consumers. 

The FCPA grants the BSP quasi-judicial power to receive, hear and decide on the public’s complaints.

BSP Director Charina De Vera-Yap said that with the FCPA, fraud victims will no longer need to go to the courts for claims of money or reimbursements.

"There are equally important provisions on market conduct and surveillance. These are additional powers that the BSP can do so that the financial markets will have discipline and they will be forced to comply with the provisions of the FCP bill," she added. 

The Act institutionalizes consumer protection standards and promotes transparent and responsible pricing, fair and respectful treatment of clients' privacy as well as data protection. 

House Ways and Means Chair, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda commended the leaders of the House and Senate for what he called the “the buzzer-beater approval” of the measure. 

“It’s a good start, especially as banks have recently been susceptible to cybersecurity issues. It will also be good protection against investment fraud and scams,” Salceda said.

He said the bill will establish a regulatory and penal framework for financial crimes and fraud, and protect consumers of financial products. 

“We truly need a financial consumer protection framework for the country. We don’t have one comprehensive law for the protection of buyers and sellers of investment products,” Salceda said.

Online fraud cost consumers around P540 million in 2021 alone, the BSP said. 

- With a report from Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News



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