‘Suspend fees for online transactions’

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    SENATORS Francis Pangilinan and Juan Edgardo Angara yesterday called for the suspension of fees for online transactions of banks and mobile payment services while the country is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Pangilinan said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to step in and suspend or slash the online transaction fees.

    “The waived transaction fee could have pay for one meal,” he said.. He recounted the story of a laundrywoman who he said became the sole breadwinner of the family after her husband lost her job due to the pandemic, and is sending money Masbate for her children who have to pay the online transaction fee.

    “Habang di pa humuhupa ang pagkalat ng COVID-19, mas mainam kung isususpinde o bababaan muna ang pagkolekta ng mga online transaction fees (While the number of COVID cases has yet to go down, it would be better to suspend or slash the online transaction fees for the meantime),” Pangilinan said.

    Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said every peso saved could go a long way in this difficult time.

    “Right now every family is penny-pinching due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic so every amount saved goes a long way. We appeal to our banks and financial institutions to suspend their collection of fees for digital transaction during this very challenging time,”Angara said.

    Angara aired his full support to the efforts of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to promote the use of digital payments in order to reduce physical/cash transactions while also providing some relief to consumers during these extraordinary times.

    The BSP earlier said several banks will resume charging fees for online transactions starting October 1.

    These are BDO Unibank, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, BPI, China Banking Corporation, Bank of Commerce, Robinson’s Bank Corporation, Philippine Savings Bank, PayMaya Philippines Inc., China Bank Savings Inc., Philippine Bank of Communications, and Equicom Savings Bank Inc.

    At least 12 banks have decided to waive their fees for PESONet and InstaPay transactions until December 31, based on a list released by the BSP last August.

    Those which have agreed to waive fees until further notice are the Philippine National Bank, MUFG Bank Ltd., CTBC Bank (Philippines) Corporation, Bank of China Limited-Manila Branch, BPI Direct Banko, Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank, CIMB Bank, Citibank, DC Pay (retail clients), ING Bank N.V., JP Morgan Chase Bank, Philippine Business Bank, Philippine Trust Company, and Bank of Florida.

    Angara has filed a bill promoting the adoption of digital payments for financial transactions of government and all merchants.

    Senate Bill 1764 seeks to institutionalize digital payments in government and the private sector in order to improve efficiency, reduce costs and the possible health hazards posed by physical transactions.