Swapang masyado! BSP urged to put cap on bank transfer fees

A lawmaker has asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to halt the “avarice” of banks by putting a cap on exorbitant fund transfer fees at a time of surging inflation.

Citing BSP’s own market monitoring data, House Ways and Means committee chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said a PESONet transfer — that is, the fee for interbank transfers that clear in one to two banking days — goes as high as P2,100 per transaction.

A check with the BSP website showed it was the Bank of America charging the highest at up to P2,100 for PESONet transactions, followed by Deutsche Bank and the United Overseas Bank at up to P2,000 and P775.

Among local lenders, bigwigs BDO and BPI both charge PESONet fees of P50.

“If this is not avarice, I don’t know what is. The BSP should cut itm,” Salceda said.

The figures aren’t too friendly for Instapay either, the platform for real-time crediting across banks. The fee ranges from P8 to P30 per transfer.

“The larger the bank, it seems, the larger fees are as a share of total net income,” Salceda pointed out. “Not capping fees sends a very bad signal and incentive to large banks: that they can make money off the average wage earner, without performing their crucial role as sources of capital for economic growth. All they need to do is keep raising fees.”

Salceda also blasted the practice of some lenders of charging a fee even when the transactions are within the same bank. “What is the value-add that the bank is charging for?,” he said.

He said banks better follow the model of online-only banks, which have been attracting more clients to date.

“If virtual banks are capable of offering the most retail-friendly services at very low fees, I don’t see why our biggest banks can’t,” the lawmaker added.

“I think a cap (on fees) would force them to innovate, and force them to really offer loans and other financial services instead of milking the small client.”