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ATM Machines in Philippines

BSP asked to identify banks planning to raise ATM fees

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Makati City Representative Luis Campos Jr. asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to name the banks that are asking for higher charges on automated teller machine (ATM) transactions.

Campos noted the BSP’s Consumer Financial Protection Department could release the names of banks that have already submitted applications for ATM fee adjustment.

“The banks are bound to be identified anyway, considering that both the House and the Senate are poised to launch separate inquiries,” he said in a statement.

Campos earlier said the House of Representatives is set to conduct an inquiry into the looming increase in ATM charges following the lifting of the moratorium imposed by the BSP in 2013.

Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, also said they are eyeing to investigate the reported plan to increase ATM fees that is seen to further burden Filipino workers.

A BSP official earlier disclosed that less than 10 banks have already petitioned to raise their ATM transaction fees. At least one bank, however, is actually seeking permission to slash its ATM user fee.

“That’s good news. If one big bank can bring down its ATM charge, presumably due to economies of scale, why can’t the rest of the big banks do the same?” Campos said.

Economies of scale with respect to ATM operations simply means that the bigger banks with more machines achieve greater cost-savings from the higher level of use.

“While it might be understandable for the smaller banks with fewer ATMs to want to raise their fees, it might be harder for the bigger banks to justify their plans to jack up charges,” Campos said.

Currently, banks are charging between P10 to P15 per interbank withdrawal transaction, and P2 to P2.50 per interbank balance inquiry.

Campos noted that a number of banks had wanted to push up their ATM charges by as much as 50 percent before the BSP ordered a standstill in 2013.

He said the five largest full-service universal private banks in terms of market capitalization at the Philippine Stock Exchange are BDO Unibank Inc. (BDO), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), Security Bank Corp. and Philippine National Bank (PNB).

The solon noted that BDO has over 4,000 ATMs, not counting the 976 ATMs of sister lender China Banking Corp.

BPI has over 2,100 ATMs, while Metrobank has over 2,300 ATMs, excluding the 575 ATMs of subsidiary Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank).

Security Bank has 760 ATMs, while the PNB has 1,395.

Meanwhile, the state-owned LandBank of the Philippines (LBP) has 2,099 ATMs.

Campos noted that Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel wanted the BSP to explain why it suddenly decided to lift the moratorium.

The Department of Trade and Industry led by Secretary Ramon Lopez also on Wednesday vowed to fight the looming increases in ATM fees.

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