Gatchalian seeks moratorium on online money transfer fees as COVID-19 cases rise

Published January 12, 2022, 11:31 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday appealed to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the banking community to suspend the collection of fees on online money transfers while COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Gatchalian said it would also be better if financial institutions and companies offering e-wallet services would waive electronic fund transfer (EFT) service fees again, similar to what they implemented in 2020 and until the end of 2021.

“With a number of banks shortening their operating hours, some banks even temporarily closing as some of their employees have also contracted the disease or manifested symptoms of COVID-19, it would be a wise move if the public resort to electronic banking to lessen face-to-face transactions,” Gatchalian said.

“While most are currently burdened with expenses brought about by medicines, COVID-19 testing fees and hospitalization, a fee-less money transfer service and payment transaction can also be a temporary relief measure to the public,” said the senator, who is also the vice chairof the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies.

Gatchalian pointed out this was already employed by the BSP and some BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) when Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in April 2020, and even when the lockdown was extended in May 2020.

Some banks even waived the collection of EFT service fees for InstaPay and PESONet transactions until the end of last year.

Instapay transfers a daily limit of P50,000 with transaction fees ranging from P0 to P40 while PESONet transfers a daily limit of P200,000 with transaction fees ranging from P0 to P775 as of November 30, 2021

“Dahil dito, maeengganyo pa natin ang ating mga kababayan na manatili na lang sa kanilang mga tahanan at idaan na lang ang transaksyon sa pamamagitan ng online (With this, more of our citizens would be encouraged to just stay at home and do the transactions online),” he said.

“Mas mapapabilis na ang serbisyo, makakaiwas pa sa sakit. Mas mapapabilis ang pagbabalik normal ng ating pamumuhay kung magtutulungan tayo (It would also expedite services, and shield them from illness. It will fast track our goal to be back to normal if all of us would cooperate),” Gatchalian said.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the share of digital payments on the volume of retail transactions increased from 14 percent in 2019 to 20.2 percent in 2020.