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Law vs ‘hidden’ ATM fees sought



Photo by Nick Pampoukidis on Unsplash

THE Senate was asked to pass remedial legislation mandating banks to post charges for using automated teller machines to effectively stop “hidden, surprise and unreasonable” ATM fees.

In filing Senate Bill 635, Sen. Francis P. Pangilinan proposed early enactment of a law to be known as the Automated Teller Machine Fee Regulatory Act requiring financial institutions to disclose on the ATM screen the total transaction fee or surcharge to be imposed for each transaction prior to its completion.

Pangilinan says this provision will give bank clients the option to cancel the transaction after the fee is disclosed.

The senator noted that customers complained that “banks always make ATM transactions a shocking experience for us because it’s only in the end when know how much we are charged.”

“Ano yun? Sisingilin ka para kunin ang pera mo, [What’s that? They banks would charge you for taking your own money.],” he added.

“Mula balance inquiry hanggang sa withdrawal, may kaltas. Kakarampot na nga ang sweldo ng ating mga kababayan, babawasan pa ng bangko,” Pangilinan lamented, noting that Senators Grace Poe and Risa Hontiveros made similar proposals on ATM fees. “Wala naman tayong magawa dahil karamihan sa atin ay sa ATM pinadadaan ang sweldo. [From balance inquiry to withdrawal, there’s a charge. The banks eat into the salaries of our countrymen that are already low and there’s nothing they can do because most payrollare coursed through the ATM.]”

Pangilinan pointed out that according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), as of October 2012, withdrawal fees can go as high as P100; balance inquiry fees, P10; and, interbank transfer fees, P100, even as he noted that “ATM cardholders may be charged up to P100 without them knowing it.”

The senator asserted that SB 635 was crafted “to protect ATM cardholders from hidden, surprise, or unreasonable fees.” He emphasized the bill “promotes transparency by requiring all financial institutions to inform cardholders of the charges they incur during ATM transactions.”

In addition, Pangilinan’s bill provides several fee restrictions on ATM transactions through imposing a cap on transaction fees, no ATM transaction fee shall exceed 1 percent of the total transaction amount and screen display and printed receipt requirement. It adds that no customer shall be charged any fee or surcharge by a financial institution for an ATM transaction unless the fee or surcharge is displayed on the screen prior to transaction.

Moreover, SB 635 covers mobile phone or telephone transactions, providing that “no customer shall be charged any fee or surcharge for any ATM transactions initiated via telephone or mobile phone.”

As for single fee per transaction, Pangilinan proposes that “no bank customer shall be billed for more than one fee per ATM transaction regardless of the number of financial institutions involved in the transaction.” A separate provision on cash dispensing requirement provides that “no customer shall be charged any fee or surcharge for a transaction that did not dispense cash.”


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