Banks urged to hold off on hiking ATM fees, use excess capital to expand services

BANKS SHOULD USE their excess capital to expand their services instead of increasing fees for cash machine services, a lawmakers said, after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas tweaked its rules on fees this month.

Anakalusugan party-list Representative Michael T. Defensor said in a statement on Thursday that banks have surplus capital since automated teller machine (ATM) services have increased since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The banks should use some of their excess capital to enlarge their ATM networks instead of punishing cardholders with higher user fees to fund their expansion,” he said.

Mr. Defensor noted how one bank seems “awash” with capital, adding “it is paying out a record P18 billion in special dividends to shareholders next month, even after setting aside P41 billion in reserves against potential bad loans.”

He also called the move of the central bank “oppressive” for 58 million ATM card holders nationwide.

The BSP earlier this month said it will adopt a “acquirer-based system” which will allow banks to impose fees on non-clients using its ATM services. The old system only allowed the cardholder’s bank to impose fees for transacting in other banks’ ATMs.

ATM charges are currently around P10 to P15 but fees are expected to reach as high as P18 when the new system will be implemented.

The new protocol will be implemented starting April 7.

The Bankers Association of the Philippines said earlier this month that the new system will allow banks to deliver better services and foster competition between banks. — GMC

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