Brace Yourselves: ATM Interbank Charge Fees Could Go 50% Higher

Automated Teller Machines (ATM) fees are feared to go up at least 50% after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) lifted the 2013 moratorium order suspending ATM fee hikes.

Currently, depending on the bank, a single interbank withdrawal costs around P10 to P15 while an interbank balance inquiry costs P2. With the lifting of the six-year moratorium on ATM fee increases, however, higher charges are expected.

ATM Charges

The charges could jump up to P15 to P30 per interbank withdrawal, or possibly even higher.

The lifting of the freeze stoked concerns among lawmakers that banks would impose as much as a 50-percent hike on ATM fees, based on the rates they had charged or proposed to charge before the moratorium took effect in 2013.

That said, the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediate is set to investigate the looming increases in ATM fees, starting with Makati City 2nd District Representative Luis Campos Jr. filing House Resolution 210 which enables the inquiry into the order of the BSP allowing banks to adjust the fees they charge for ATM services.

“We are worried that the forthcoming increases in ATM charges might harm consumers—the nation’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders,” Makati Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said in a statement on August 12, 2019.

“Even more vulnerable are our estimated 4.1 million minimum wage earners. Many of them receive and withdraw their salaries twice a month through their ATM cards at the machine nearest them,” he added.

For the benefit of the banks

A survey of ATM fees would indicate that banks currently charge between P10 to P15 per single interbank withdrawal transaction, and P2 per single interbank balance inquiry.

These charges could jump to as much as P15 to P30 per single interbank withdrawal, possibly even higher with the removal of the moratorium.

But the BSP earlier reminded banks to impose “reasonable and market-based” pricing and not just stack up on charges given the removal of the moratorium.

“The amount to be charged to a cardholder should be clearly displayed on the ATM location and on the screen of the ATM terminal. The notice should clearly indicate that the amount displayed is on top of the charges that may be imposed by the card issuer.” As stated by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier in her memorandum to the banks.

As per Makati Rep. Campos, any increase in ATM fees would post banks huge earnings of up to 26%.

In the first half of the year, banks racked up P110 billion in profits, 26% higher than what they were earning in the same period last year, according to preliminary data from the BSP.

(Read: BDO, Metrobank, BPI Rank High On List Of World’s Most Valuable Banking Brands)

Memorandum vs. resolution

On July 19, 2019, the BSP issued Memorandum No. M-2019-020 lifting the moratorium on ATM fees.

Based on the order signed by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonancier, banks will only have to inform the BSP about their proposed ATM fees based on the costs incurred with respect to their ATM activities. The order also states that banks should disclose the amount to be charged to a cardholder.

According to Makati Representative Campos, banks had wanted to jack up their ATM charges by as much as 50% before the BSP enforced the moratorium on ATM fee increases in 2013.

In House Resolution 210, Makati 2nd District Representative Luis Campos Jr. called for an inquiry in aid of legislation as it is “consistent with the State’s duty under a 1992 law to protect the interests and general welfare of consumers and to establish standards of conduct for business.”

He said it is the state’s duty to protect the interests and general welfare of consumers and to establish standards of conduct for business.

The banking cartel

In his resolution, Makati 2nd District Representative Campos pointed out that there now exists a virtual monopoly in the network that interconnects all of the country’s 21,682 ATMs and that the matter should be probed so as to safeguard the rights of the ATM users under Republic Act 7394 or otherwise known as the Consumer Act.

ExpressNet Inc. outsourced its ATM network to BancNet Inc. in 2008. BancNet and MegaLink Inc. merged their ATM networks in 2015, with BancNet as the surviving entity, and while MegaLink has since been repurposed.

“In this case, we are clearly compelled under The Consumer Act, or Republic Act 7394, to conduct an inquiry so as to safeguard the rights of ATM users.” Makati Rep. Campos said.

(Read: On Paperless Billing: Should You Pay Your Service Provider For Printed Billing Statements?)

Transaction fees

Consumers can use ATMs of their so-called mother banks for free. But banks charge those who are not their customers for using their ATMs. Here are the charges:

Universal Banks

Bank Balance Inquiry Fee Withdrawal Fee
Allied Banking Corporation P1 P10
Banco De Oro (BDO) Univank, Inc. – Debit Card P2 P11
BDO Unibank, Inc. – Smart Money P2.50 P15
BDO Unibank, Inc. – Cash Card P2 P11
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) P1.50 P15
Development Bank of the Philippines P1 P10
EastWest Banking Corporation P1 P10
Land Bank of the Philippines P1 P10
Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company P2 P11
Philippine National Bank (PNB) P2 P11
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) P2 P12
Standard Chartered Bank P1 P10
United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) P2 P11
Union Bank of the Philippines P2 P12

Commercial Banks

Bank Balance Inquiry Fee Withdrawal Fee
Asia United Bank Corporation P2 P11
Bank of Commerce P2 P11
Chinatrust Phils. Commercial Bank Corporation P2 P12
Citibank N.A. Phils
Maybank Philippines Inc. P2 P11
Philippine Bank of Communication P1 P10
Philippine Veterans Bank P2 P10
Robinsons Bank Corporation P2 P11

Thrift Banks

Bank Balance Inquiry Fee Withdrawal Fee
BPI Family Savings Bank Inc. P15
Card SMS Bank, Inc. A Thrift Bank P2 P11
China Bank Savings, Inc. P1 P10
Citibank Savings, Inc.
First Consolidated Bank, Inc. (A Private Development Bank) P100 in excess of 4 Withdrawal Transactions/Day
Malayan Bank Savings and Mortgage Bank, Inc P1 P12
Opportunity Kauswagan Bank, Inc. (A Microfinance Thrift Bank) P1 P12.50
Pacific Ace Savings Bank, Inc. P2 P12.35
Philippine Savings Bank (PS Bank) P2 P11
Equicom Savings Bank, Inc. P2.50 P11
Planters Development Bank P2 P11
Queen City Development Bank, Inc. P2.59 P11
RCBC Savings Bank, Inc. P2 P12
Sterling Bank of Asia, Inc. (A Savings Bank) P1 P10
Wealth Development Bank Corporation P1 P10
World Partners Bank (A Thrift Bank) P1 P10

Sources: Tribune, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, BSP