BSP eyes removal of bank fees on small transactions

Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2023 06:39 PM

MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it wants banks to consider waiving fees on small bank-to-bank transactions and payments to encourage more people to use digital payments. 

BSP Governor Felipe Medalla said the central bank has been talking to the Bankers Association of the Philippines on how to “subsidize" transactions of around P200 to P500.

"If somebody is just paying P200 and he has to pay P15 - P20 transaction, that is a lot right? This will discourage the use of digital payments for small transactions,” Medalla said. 

“Halimbawa maliit lang naman bank account mo, nagbayad ka dalawang beses, tatlong beses, apat na beses, dapat hindi ka na singilin. (If your bank account is small, and you pay two, three or four times, you should no longer be charged.) Then we will find a way for them (banks) to get back some of their losses,” he added. 

Medalla reiterated a deal he discussed during last week’s Banker’s Night, wherein the BSP would reduce banks' Reserve Requirement Ratio from the current 12 percent. 

This would effectively free up more bank capital for use in their business.

"We are literally bribing the banks to subsidize the small transactions, and from what I hear from BAP, they are receptive to this and I look forward to more digital payments, especially by the poor using their accounts which has grown significantly because of Instapay,” the central bank chief said.

Medalla said payments and bank transfers on InstaPay, the online transaction network that allows for real transfers of up to P50,000, is nearing ATM levels. 

The BSP chief however also said the proposed RRR cut in exchange for a waiver of fees will depend on inflation. 

BAP President Tony Moncupa meanwhile acknowledged that the group is working with the BSP to find ways to support financial inclusion while also covering the costs of making online transfers possible.

"While transfer fees are determined by each bank, and the need to cover cost of technology, infrastructure, cybersecurity, consumer education and charges by the switch operator are imperative, the BAP maintains close collaboration with the BSP and stakeholders to ensure that the ultimate goal of financial inclusion is attained in a way that is efficient and sustainable," Moncupa said.

"The Bankers Association of the Philippines shares and supports the Bangko Sentral’s objective of financial inclusion by democratizing online usage of financial services which include reduction of bank-to-bank transfer fees," he added.

ABS-CBN News interviewed fruit vendor Roberto Inocencio, who said InstaPay fees for small transactions bite into his earnings every day.

Sometimes, he loses P45 for transfer fees a day. When sending money to his 5 children, he is also being charged P15. Inocencio said waiving the fees would help people like him.

"Sana wala nga, (Hopefully it gets waived)" he said.

Most banks impose fees of between P8 and P30 per InstaPay transaction.


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