New ATM Policy "Promotes competition and efficiency in the banks" - BSP

New ATM Policy "Promotes competition and efficiency in the banks" - BSP

Manila - The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) says that the new ATM fee charging policy is "more advantageous" to the cardholders as it provides transparency.

The policy pushes for transparency as fees have to be disclosed to cardholders before they transact, the BSP defended.

The central bank said in a statement that the policy “supports the implementation of a more straightforward way of imposing fees, as well as enhancements in fee-disclosure requirements.”

Under this policy, a financial institution (FI), such as a bank, can set ATM fees for noncustomers while keeping its ATM withdrawal and balance-inquiry services free for its customers. Currently, banks charge their cardholders the same fees for transacting at other ATMs.

“ATM users will be able to make better, more informed decisions on how and where they wish to transact based on ATM fees posted in the ATM terminals,” it said.

It added that the policy will allow banks with ATM services to be “reasonably compensated” for servicing nonclients. This would result in a wider reach of banking services in the country for it will encourage them to set up more terminals.

“Providing ATM services entails cost, including the counting and transporting of cash and its loading in ATMs; using electricity; providing security, and other expenses to operate and maintain said machines,” the central bank said.

“BSP-supervised FIs are required to employ safeguards to ensure that their clients can safely and conveniently use ATMs,” it added.

The policy is set to be adopted on April 7 by the bank to fulfill a requirement imposed by the BSP after it lifted the moratorium on adjusting ATM fees in July.

For the past seven years, withdrawal fees have been between P10 and P15. Once the policy is in effect, withdrawal fees would range from P10 to P18.

The BSP assured that it “will review and approve all requests for ATM fee adjustments, and will consider the reasonable cost for ensuring the reliability and security of ATM services.”

Chief Benjamin Castillo expressed the group’s appreciation for the central bank’s “move to adopt this pricing philosophy that is market-driven and customer-centered.”

“This policy promotes competition and efficiency in the banks’ effort to deliver better services to the banking public,” he added.

However, according to the advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) the policy's imminent implementation is "not appropriate" at this time, considering that the pandemic and the threat it poses still exist.

LKI President Vic Dimagiba said that it is “counterproductive to the cashless policy” even if the policy would comply with health protocols and ensure that depositors would easily access their money anywhere and anytime in the same bank.

“Banks should give rewards to the depositors that patronize the ATM facilities. [They should] add more mobility and transfer options,” he insisted.

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