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BIR URGED: SUSPEND ONLINE TRANSFER FEES AMID COVID

Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the banking community to suspend the collection of fees on online money transfers while COVID-19 cases peak.

“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.

“It would be a wise move if the public resorts to electronic banking to lessen face-to-face transactions.”

“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,” the Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies added.

The veteran legislator said his proposition had been 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 waived the collection of electronic fund transfer (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

“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,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.

“Mas mapapabilis na ang serbisyo, makakaiwas pa sa sakit.”

“Dahil dito, ma-e-engganyo pa natin ang ating mga kababayan na manatili na lang sa kanilang mga tahanan at idaan na lang ang transaksyon sa pamamagitan ng online. Mas mapapabilis na ang serbisyo, makakaiwas pa sa sakit. Mas mapapabilis ang pagbabalik normal ng ating pamumuhay kung magtutulungan tayo,” the senator added.

In the most recent BSP figures, the share of digital payments on the volume of retail transactions increased further to 20.2% in 2020 from 14% in 2019.

According to BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, this means that one out of five payment transactions last year were done digitally.

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