New fees to boost ATM deployment

The acquirer-based fee charging (ABFC) for automatic teller machines (ATMs), which took effect last April 7, is likely to drive more ATM deployment in underserved areas in the country, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

During a virtual briefing on Thursday, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said ABFC aims to address some of the challenges in financial access, particularly the declining growth in ATM terminals and the limited availability of ATM terminals in the provinces.

Diokno added that many ATMs are concentrated in Metro Manila, which accounted for about 34 percent, followed by Region 4A (Calabarzon), which accounted for 13 percent.

Meanwhile, the share of other regions ranges from zero to 8 percent.

“The new system could drive support for the deployment of more ATMs, especially in rural areas with no or few ATMs. As ATM deployment expands, banking and financial services gain wider reach, supporting financial inclusion,” he emphasized.

Diokno said the ABFC is a market-based and transparent way of pricing ATM services that empowers cardholders to choose an ATM that charges lower transaction fees.

“In the old pricing method, the cardholder has no option but to be charged a fixed fee in any ATM not owned by his bank. With variable fees charged under the ABFC, the fee could be lower,” he explained.

The Bangko Sentral said the shift to ABFC only affects the fees charged to transactions performed by cardholders at another bank’s ATM. Withdrawal and balance inquiry fees remain to be free when a cardholder transacts at his bank’s ATM.

Moreover, to enable users to make better and more informed decisions, the ATM fees are required to be posted in the ATM location and displayed on ATM screens. An opt-out option is also provided in case the customer decided not to proceed with the transaction.

Before April 7, the country’s biggest banks already announced that fees for cash withdrawals and balance inquiries would be set by the bank that owns the ATMs that customers use.

BDO Unibank Inc. is currently charging non-BDO ATM holders P18 for withdrawals and P2 for balance inquiries.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. and the Bank of the Philippine Islands said then that fees for non-Metrobank and non-BPI cardholders transacting on their ATMs would be P18 for withdrawals and P2 for balance inquiries.

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