Castelo continues push for suspension of online fees

Published November 6, 2020, 4:52 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo isn’t giving up on her push to have online banking transfer fees and other e-payment transaction fees suspended until September next year after her measure, House Resolution (HR) No.1271, was rejected Thursday by resource persons from the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) and Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PPMI) during a virtual hearing of the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.


“I will still try to convince them to cooperate and waive charges until the state of health emergency is lifted,” Castelo said Friday when asked what her next move would be after the committee seemed to leave her measure on the table.

“This (measure) will be a big help to our fellow Filipinos especially at this time that we are still on GCQ (General Community Quarantine) and in limited working capacity,” added the lady lawmaker.

Through HR No.1271, Castelo seeks to express the sense of the House of the Representatives in asking the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to suspend online banking transfer fees and other e-payment transaction fees and charges until the end of the public health emergency in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Castelo, during the Thursday hearing, specified that she wants the suspension for these fees and charges lifted on Sept. 12, 2021, or once the period of the state of calamity is deemed over.

Last Sept. 13, President Duterte issued Proclamation No.1021 which further extended the period of the state of calamity in the country due to COVID-19 for one year or until Sept. 12, 2021.

“With due respect to the congresswoman, Sept. 12, 2021 ay napakatagal po na period (It’s a very lengthy period),” BAP Managing Director Benjamin Castillo said regarding the measure.

“Ang visible po sa atin kasi sa publiko, may mga fees na china-charge ang mga bangko. Ang hindi po visible sa public, ‘yung mga cost ng mga bangko to deliver the service. May mga cost lahat ’yan (What’s visible to the public is the fees that banks charge. What is not visible to them is the cost incurred by banks to deliver the service. All of those cost money). The longer we waive fees, the longer that the banks will have to carry the cost burden in delivering the services,” Castillo explained.

PPMI President Abraham Co was similarly non-enthused with HR No.1271. PPMI is an association that covers electronic money institutions (EMIs) such as GCash and PayMaya.

“We should charge because not doing so would also be detrimental to the advancement of digital payments in the country. We have to invest, we have to set up a lot of systems, and market the product and all of these would cost money,” Co noted.

At any rate, he said PPMI is cooperating with the BSP in terms of giving the type of relief they can to clients amid the pandemic. “Every 90 days we discuss with them, we come up with a solution. And we take their advice very seriously.”

The Castelo measure notes that last April 28, the Monetary Board of the BSP approved the suspension of charging of filing, processing, and licensing or registration fees for applications to provide e-payment and financial services for a period of six months from March 8, 2020, subject to further extension depending on the development of the COVID-19 situation.

Banks panel chairman, Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, made no action in connection with HR No.1271 after Castelo acknowledged the comments of the resource persons.