BSP stops banks from raising ATM fees
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - There will be no increase in interbank ATM withdrawal fees for now. This comes as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas issued an order for banks to maintain status quo in their ATM fees.
BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr. said the Monetary Board believes further study is needed to decide whether the banks' plan to increase in ATM fees is justified.
"The Monetary Board approved the issuance of a memorandum instructing ... banks to maintain the status quo in terms of both service fees and connectivity arrangement with respect to their ATM network pending a completion of a study," BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. told reporters yesterday.
Earlier, several banks, including Metrobank, Security Bank and BDO, said they will be raising interbank ATM withdrawal fees from P11 to P15. The banks said this "an industry-wide development to basically cover the cost of operating the ATMs."
Espenilla said the BSP acknowledged that banks need to recover the costs of operations, but noted that increasing the ATM fees may affect a lot of consumers.
"So a study is required so we can balance the various interests here. The BSP recognizes that banks also have a legitimate need to recover their costs of operations but at the same time, consumers ought to be protected on the reasonableness on their access and the cost of that access to the ATM networks," he added.
Espenilla said there is no timeline yet for the study, which will look into the banks' disclosure and consumer practices and inter-operability arrangements with other banks.
"The BSP believes that we have the basis as the bank supervisor... to make such instruction. In particular, we are citing Section 4 and 5 of the General Banking Law," he said.
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8791 refers to the BSP's supervisory powers, while Section 5 refers to policy directions of the central bank.
For its part, Bankers Association of the Philippines President Lorenzo Tan said its members will be consulted following the BSP's move.
"The BAP 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," he said.
BDO President Nestor Tan said, "Of course we will comply with the BSP directive. At this moment though, we are not yet in receipt of any official communication from them."
Metrobank said, "We haven't received official directive on this yet."