Remolona urges major banks to drop small transfer fees

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has called on major financial institutions in the country to consider waiving or reducing fees on small-value fund transfers conducted through digital platforms.

BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona Jr. acknowledged that there is currently no formal payment framework or regulatory mandate compelling banks to eliminate or reduce fees on minor transactions.
Therefore, the central bank can only make appeals through moral persuasion, he said.

Remolona noted that currently, three of the country’s largest lenders had waived fees for small transfers of up to P1,000.

These are Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. of the Ty family, and Union Bank of the Philippines of the Aboitizes.

“We are scheduled to meet with the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) to discuss payments more broadly. From that meeting, we anticipate the emergence of more formal measures,” he said.

In addition to discussions with BAP member banks, the BSP aims to engage with digital payment providers such as GCash and Maya (formerly PayMaya) in ongoing dialogues.

These discussions will be incorporated into the overall payments framework, Remolona said.

The BSP has been in discussions with both banks and non-banks for more than six months, with the goal of exempting minor e-payment transactions from fees, provided they fall below a certain transaction volume.

As of the end of March, some institutions offer free InstaPay services, while others charge fees ranging from P8 to P25 per transaction.

Currently, there are 78 participating institutions in InstaPay, including 22 major banks, 19 thrift banks, 15 rural banks, and five digital banks, in addition to 17 non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) serving as e-money issuers (EMIs).

Since February of this year, the BSP has been collaborating with major banks, thrift banks, rural and cooperative banks, as well as non-banks with quasi-banking functions, to explore the possibility of a “cost-sharing system” aimed at enhancing the inclusivity of digital payments.