Imee: No New Bank And Fintech Fees, Please!

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Senator Imee Marcos has hit the “token suspension” of fees that banks and financial technology (fintech) companies planned to impose this October, saying it must be extended until the Covid-19 pandemic clearly subsides.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said that suspending transaction fees until the latter half of next year, when a vaccine could be available, will make a real difference in promoting the growth of small businesses online.

“We made a big push with the help of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to give a 60-day debt moratorium to the public, only to be offset by new charges,” Marcos explained.

“Those who were gainfully employed have been forced to find an alternative means of livelihood online. Let’s promote the growth of small businesses during this crisis,” Marcos said, adding that more fees would also affect the buying public.

Various banks and popular fintech companies like Gcash and PayMaya had planned to impose new fees this October but suspended these to November or until yearend.

Among the fees that Marcos wants postponed longer are service charges of 15 pesos for money transfers, 20 pesos for over-the-counter transactions and for cash withdrawals via Mastercard, and fintech fees of 1% to 2% on cash-in and over-the-counter transactions of Php8,000 and above.

Owners of small online businesses that have barely started have complained that the sudden introduction of fees makes it more difficult for them to cope with the economic crisis.

Some 75,000 online businesses are registered in the country and use the services of almost 200 fintech companies that deal in money lending, bill payments, digital wallets, and remittances.

“Banks and fintech companies can certainly afford to postpone new fees for a longer period. Digital payment systems will become even more popular and profitable due to limited public mobility during the pandemic,” Marcos said.

In 2019, before the pandemic, e-money transactions already registered 36% growth valued at Php760 billion, according to a Fintech News Philippines report.

The same report said the spike in e-money transactions also owes to the fact that only 29% of Filipino adults maintain bank accounts.