MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Mobile wallet services GCash and PayMaya will not be collecting bank transfer fees next month as they earlier announced.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the two e-money giants will instead resume collecting electronic bank transfer using Instapay on Nov. 1.
Other banks, meanwhile, said they will hold off on the transfer fees until the end of the year.
Banks waived these fees since the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns in March to encourage clients to use electronic banking channels instead of visiting bank branches. This was seen as a measure to help check the spread of COVID-19.
Mobile wallet service users have accused the two firms of taking advantage of the pandemic after BSP earlier said digital transactions grew exponentially during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
However, the managing director of BSP's financial technology sub-sector, Vicente de Villa III, said in an interview the e-money giants have been mulling to collect bank transfer fees even before the pandemic.
"But as time went on, mayroon silang mga operating costs na kailangan ma-maintain. Alam niyo ho, 'pag pumupunta tayo sa mga loading outlets, 'di ba ang e-wallet nilo-load sa mga outlets, sa mga iba-ibang tindahan? Whether convenience store or saan man. Sinisingil 'yun e. Sinisingil sila ng mga outlets na 'to. Sinisingil 'yung mga e-wallet providers," De Villa said told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(But as time went on, they amassed operating costs which they need to maintain. You know, when we go to loading outlets, we load up our e-wallets in outlets, different stores right? Whether convenience store or wherever. That's being charged. That's being charged by these outlets. They are charging e-wallet providers.)
De Villa said operating fees have gone up since e-wallets since outlets and different stores increased their charges for online transfer providers.
He said e-wallet firms postponed collecting transfer fees when the pandemic struck the Philippines in January, when they were supposed to start collecting them.
InstaPay-related transactions reached 29.5 million with total value of P141.2 billion as of end-August, representing 312.2 percent growth in volume and 206 percent in value compared to the end-March 2020 level, BSP ealier said.
PESONet transactions reached 2.7 million with total value of P252.9 billion, BSP said, representing about 120 percent growth in volume and 70 percent in value, respectively from the baseline end-March 2020 level.