BSP Assures the Public that Banks Cannot Raise ATM Fees Without Approval
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), or the central bank of the Philippines, assured the public on Tuesday, August 13, that banks nationwide are not authorized to increase their automated teller machine (ATM) transaction charges without the BSP’s approval.
Speculations of an impending hike in ATM transaction fees were reported immediately following the lifting of Memorandum No. M-2019-020, a ‘6-year freeze’ on ATM bank fees adjustments, causing concern from the House of Representatives and the general public.
“We are worried that the forthcoming increases in ATM charges might harm consumers – the nation’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders,” said Makati Rep. Luis Campos after filing a resolution seeking an investigation by the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.
In response to this, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno and Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier explained that banks are still answerable to the central bank and the agency sees to it that they adhere to the principles of “reasonable and market-based pricing.”
“The moratorium on [ATM] fee (adjustments) just finished. But it does not mean the banks will adjust fees automatically,” Governor Diokno said during an event in Quezon City on Tuesday.
“Banks cannot just increase the ATM fees as they would want to. There’s a process they need to observe in setting the ATM fees,” Ms. Fonacier added.
BSP stressed that any bank that intends to adjust ATM fees must formally submit all requirements and file the request with the BSP. The application should specify the proposed fees, and costs currently incurred by the bank’s ATM activities clearly and properly supported. BSP would then validate the necessity of the request.
“Rest assured that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas shall examine each request and decide if the increase is warranted to cover the cost of maintaining the ATMs,” BSP said in a statement.
Should an increase be imperative for the operation of a bank after further assessment, they are still required to file all the necessary applications prior to releasing additional charges to consumers and have their provisions reviewed and regulated thoroughly by the central bank.
“The BSP acknowledges the concerns of the banking public on news reports about the possible increase in ATM fees… [We] assure the public that [our] policy on ATM fees is guided by best industry practices and driven with the broader welfare of consumers in mind,” the central bank added.