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BSP, banks urged to suspend online money transfer fees amid COVID-19 surge

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the banking industry on Wednesday have been urged to issue a moratorium on the collection of online money transfer fees amid the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian emphasized the importance of online banking, as many banks have reduced their working hours and some of their employees have contracted the respiratory disease.

“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, vice chairman of the Senate Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies committee, 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,” he pointed out.

The senator recalled that his suggestion was implemented by the BSP and some financial institutions when the National Capital Region was placed under enhanced community quarantine or the strictest lockdown classification in April and May 2020.

Some banks had waived the collection of electronic fund transfer service fees for InstaPay and PESONet transactions until the end of 2021, he noted.

Currently, he said, 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.

"It will be better if financial institutions and companies offering e-wallet services also extend the same relief to the public to help lessen the queuing in payment and cash transactions,” Gatchalian said.

With this, he said the public will be encouraged to stay at home and use online banking services.

GMA News Online has sought BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno’s comment on Gatchalian’s proposal.

In December 2021, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno expressed optimism that the it would hit its target by 2023, which includes the digitalization of at least 50% of retail payments volume and onboarding 70% of Filipino adults to the formal financial system via a payment or transaction account by 2023. — BM, GMA News