MB orders status quo on bank service fees

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The Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ordered banks to maintain the status quo for their service fees, particularly automated teller machines (ATM) charges.

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“This is about the hike in ATM charges that some banks have started to announced, which would based on those announcements take affect some as early as October 1, some in mid October, some in early November,”

BSP Deputy Governor for Supervision and Examination Sector Nestor Espenilla said.

He revealed that the Monetary Board approved the issuance of a memorandum instructing the banks to maintain the status quo in both service fees and their connectivity arrangements pending

completion of a study.

“Yes, so status quo, from where you are today, don’t change anything . . .” the BSP official said pertaining to banks.

Espenilla added that the MB decided that there is room to study further whether the increases in bank’s service fee are warranted.

He noted that the board instructed the BSP to have consultations with the industry to conduct a review of the disclosure practices, competition policy, and consumer protection and other issues as they apply to ATM transactions.

The BSP official mentioned that the central bank is going to have a complete review of the arrangements, and is addressing the bank’s moves as a consumer protection issue.

“So a study is required so we can balance the various interests, because the BSP recognizes that banks have to cover their cost of operation. But at the same time, consumers also must be protected on the reasonableness of their access and the cost of that access to the ATM networks,” the BSP official said.

He added that the study will determine what works best for the common good, and not only for stakeholders but for the public.

“We will be looking at disclosure practices, competition policy and consumer protection issues . . . That will also include interoperability arrangements of banks. In fact, that is the subject matter of the memorandum,” he said.

Asked for the timeframe of the study, Espenilla said that the MB is actually “open-ended,” until the study is completed, however, there is urgency on the part of the BSP and the industry to conduct and complete such study.

Meanwhile, Bankers Association of the Philippines President Lorenzo Tan said that the group will consult its members to arrive at a uniform consensus on the matter.

“However, each member bank will have its own particular justification in pricing of ATM services,” Tan said.

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