Irked by exorbitant bank transfer fees amid the prevailing high inflation, Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda has urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to issue regulations that would put a cap on bank charges.
Salceda, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, lamented the high transfer fees charged by some banks for the use of Instapay and PesoNet interbank transfer systems.
“We are experiencing elevated inflation. Key policy rates have gone up as a result. Meanwhile, very few if any banks have raised their interest rates on deposits, to at least transfer some of the benefits to savers. And yet, bank transfer fees remain high for several banks,” Salceda said in a statement.
“If this is not avarice, I don’t know what is,” the congressman-economist added, suggesting that “the BSP should cut it”.
Salceda’s office cited the “Summary of Corresponding Fees of BSP Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFIs) from the Disclosures Submitted as of 30 April 2022”, published by the central bank itself.
It stated that interbank transfers using Pesonet can be as high as P2,100 per transaction, with P550 being the highest charge by a purely local bank, while fees for the use of InstaPay can be as high as P35.
The supposed transfer fees within the same bank also did not sit well with the Bicol lawmaker.
“There are even charges for supposedly ‘unenrolled’ accounts, which to me is just friction. What is the value-add that the bank is charging for?” he asked.
Salceda also raised concerns about online banking scam, which has resulted in huge monetary losses.
Putting a cap on fees, according to the lawmaker, could force traditional banks “to innovate and be more retail-consumer-friendly” through loans and other financial services.
“Look at the virtual banks. Very high depository interest rates, of up to six percent per annum. No traditional bank matches this. Very low to zero fees, even interbank. If virtual banks are capable of offering the most retail-friendly services at very low fees, I don’t see why our biggest banks can’t,” he said.
“Not capping fees sends a very bad signal and incentive to large banks: that they can make money off the average wage earner, without performing their crucial role as sources of capital for economic growth. All they need to do is keep raising fees,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Salceda renewed his call for the enactment of his proposed measures — the Virtual Banking Act (HB 677) and the Financial Technology Development Act (HB 659)—which he said would “accelerate innovation and encourage new players in the banking sector”.
“I think our banks are starting to get too relaxed, and are believing they can get away with such things as exorbitant fees. Regulation will be good, but they will eventually find ways to circumvent regulation. Competition is much better, because then they will have to straighten up for survival.”