By Lee C. Chipongian

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said the BSP is closely working with the banking community on how to improve ATM (automated teller machines) services, including fee structure.

Chuchi Fonacier BSP BLOOMBERG PHOTO MARCH 12 2018 - BSP and banks to work on improving ATM services

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier. (Bloomberg Photo)

“The market players/banks have signified their openness to discuss further with the BSP on how the implementation of the lifting on the moratorium can be approached taking into consideration the interest of the banking public,” Fonacier said on Wednesday.

The BSP in a resolution last April, and disclosed in a memo last month, lifted the ban on ATM fee hikes imposed in September 2013. At the time, the BSP decided to put a stop to all pending ATM fee increases because the ATM networks, namely BancNet and Megalink, were preparing for the eventual merger and interlink of the two systems and there was a review of industry-wide disclosure practices and consumer protection policies when it comes to ATM services.

A looming Congressional inquiry on ATM fee hikes prompted the BSP to issue a statement last Tuesday, with BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno assuring the public that banks will not be increasing ATM fees soon as there is a process they have to do and go through before the BSP approves fee adjustments.

Fonacier said the BSP has provided banks the guidelines and the pricing modality if they plan to increase the amount of ATM fees the charge, currently P10-P15 per transaction for non-clients.

“There is already an existing process to ensure that banks cannot increase the ATM fee on their own,” she stressed. “In fact, any bank that intends to adjust ATM fees must file its request with the BSP, indicating their proposed fees, as well as the costs currently incurred by the bank with respect to its ATM activities.”

In this regard, she added, banks are guided by Memorandum No. 2019-020 that was issued by the BSP last July 19, detailing “BSP’s expectations relative to ATM fees including the process which banks should comply with.”
Fonacier said they decided to lift the moratorium on ATM fees to “create opportunities for banks to be able to serve the banking public.”

“Banks can start to consider offering more ATM services since they now have the opportunity to present to the BSP the costs incurred in their ATM services which the BSP will consider in evaluating the request of banks. And in relation to this, banks should adhere to the pricing principles as espoused under Circular No. 980 (issued November 6, 2017),” she said. BSP Circular No. 980 details the adoption of the National Retail Payment System.

The removal of the ban is also consistent with the BSP circular in terms of consumer pricing, added Fonacier, which banks should adopt according to “reasonable and fair market-based pricing models.”

“This in a way will also translate to banks considering to go into areas where there are no ATMs or very limited number of ATMs since they can now present to BSP on how to recoup their costs of maintaining an ATM,” she said.

As of end-March this year, there are 21,682 ATM sites, of which 11,902 are on-site or within banking premises and 9,760 are off-site, based on BSP data.

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