LKI 41st Press Statement
August 8, 2019
BSP Responds as Consumer Group Calls out BSP, points to Bank Fees Consumers need to stop Paying
In a July 19, 2019 letter to Hon. Benjamin E. Diokno, PhD, Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilpinas Manila, LKI President Atty. Vic Dimagiba first wrote “On my behalf and on behalf of Laban Konyumer Inc. ( LKI ) , the consumer advocacy group which I head, I congratulate you on your appointment as Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas”.
BSP has promulgated policies, rules and regulations as the principal agency protecting and empowering consumers in their financial transactions.
The letter continued saying “BSP’s Financial Consumer Protection Department has issued tips that can help consumers when dealing with banks and other financial institutions under BSP supervision, and BSP does not lack champions for consumer protection.”
But Dimagiba quickly express urgent concern that “Lately, there have been several banking practices that are raising distress and frustrations among consumers which are not addressed positively by the banks. It is in this regard that I am writing this letter to you as BSP’s head.”
LKI has observed firsthand, and from reports sent in by bank clients that: banks have lately been collecting fees for certain transactions which were either previously available without cost; creating certain classes of “new “services like links to other providers which will initially be free, then later charged; increasing fees for certain transactions where there is no visible new feature to justify the increased fee.
Dimagiba voiced out the sentiment of the public consumers by highlighting how “we are faced with these additional charges and fees but we as consumers are left confused as to what we are paying for and questioning if it is a fair price. We believe that it is your duty to be more transparent and open about these fees so that consumers can be empowered with the information that they need when paying these charges. We will highly appreciate more proactiveness on your end.”
The consumer group provided in the letter a short list of specific incidents/practices in certain banks which can be used for reference and which can be used to address as the banks’ regulator (incidents/practices as reported to LKI):
1. If you encash a BDO check in a BDO branch other than the maintaining branch of the check issuer, you will be charged Php 100.00;
2. Over –the –counter ( OTC ) deposits and withdrawals made by an account holder of BDO or BPI are charged Php 100.00 (BDO ) and Php 50.00 (BPI ) if these transactions are made in branches other than the account holder’s maintaining branch;
3. BPI charges a person Php 50.00 to deposit funds to an account whose maintaining branch is outside the geographical area where the deposit is being made;
4. BPI charges Php 75.00 for issuance of a manager’s check;
5. BPI/Metrobank impose fees for transactions made online /via mobile apps;
6. BDO imposes a fee of Php 100.00 and a limit of up to Php 50,000.00 when an account holder sends funds to participating banks via BDO Personal Online Banking;
7. Online fees and charges are collected for transactions within the same bank (Metrobank/BPI peso cash deposit );
8. Fees are collected on OTC transactions from an NCR branch to a regional branch (Metrobank/BPI);
9. Clearing of checks still takes three (3) days;
10. Young adults without any credit track record and without any parent/guardian consent are issued credit cards with very high credit limits;
11. Online transfer of funds from Metrobank to BPI takes 3 to 7 days;
12. A debit card investigation takes 45 days to complete.
Dimagiba declared “We have learned that the Financial Consumer Protection Bill is one of the priority bills that BSP will be pushing for in the 18th Congress. You can count on LKI’s readiness to participate in the Congressional hearing and support meaningful reforms.”
The group concluded by writing “In the meantime that the hearings have not yet commenced, we respectfully request you and the Monetary Board t set guidelines on Bank Fees the consumers need to stop paying.”
BSP recently responded saying “We thank you for your letter dated 19 July 2019, which was endorsed to us by the Office of the Governor. We take note of these concerns, and appreciate you bringing these to our attention. We will take these into consideration in the regular review of Policies and Regulation, as well as in our discussion with the banks.”
BSP concluded by saying “Thank you, too for your support of the Financial Consumer Protection Bill. This will indeed address the gap of a legal framework for all financial services, not just credit. We hope we can coordinate with LKI in pushing such reforms.”
This response was from a letter to LKI by PIA BERNADETTE ROMAN TAYAG, Managing Director of Center for Learning and Inclusion Advocacy Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.