More banks extend waiver of fund transfer fees
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More banks are extending the free real-time and batch fund transfers until the end of the year in line with the digitalization push of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as the economy recovers from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the regulator is actively pushing for the use of digital payments as part of a safe and convenient payment system as it intends to transform half of all financial transactions to cashless by the middle of 2023.

“With the quantum jump in the use of digital payments during the lockdown, I’m confident that this goal would be achieved sooner,” Diokno told reporters via Viber.

Data from the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) showed the number of e-payment transactions in the country increased to 10 percent in 2018 from only one percent in 2013, while value rose to 20 percent from eight percent.

In response to the call for relief measures that will benefit the general public and at the same time deepen the use of digital payments during the COVID-19 period, Diokno said some members of the Philippine Payments Management Inc. agreed to extend their waiver of fees for PESONet and InstaPay until end December.

These include Union Bank, Asia United Bank, state-run Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, Security Bank, Sterling Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.

On the other hand, Diokno said other members including BDO Unibank, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Bank of Philippine Islands, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Bank of Commerce, Robinsons Bank, Philippine Savings Bank, PayMaya, GCash as well as China Bank and China Bank Savings extended the waiver until Sept. 30.

Likewise, Philippine National Bank has extended the waiver on PESONet and InstaPay fees until further notice.

Under the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), BSP encourages the use of electronic payments to enhance the speed, convenience and affordability of financial transactions initially through PESONet that now has 58 participants and InstaPay with 45 participants.

“The number of participating institutions for both are expected to further increase in the coming years. Our experience with COVID-19 highlighted the increasing importance of digital transactions. It was observed that the volume and value of the combined transactions of PESONet and InstaPay during the ECQ period surged, while the volume and value of check payments and ATM withdrawals declined,” Diokno said.

The volume of InstaPay transactions from April to May jumped 57 percent, while the volume of PESONet surged significantly by 325 percent.

The BSP is also encouraging the wide adoption of the national QR code standard as well as the use of online payment facilities for government transactions via the EGov Pay facility.

Last June, BSP agreed to further waive the fees of fund transactions made through the central bank until the end of the year, allowing banks and financial institutions to promote digitalization amid the changing economic landscape due to the pandemic.

Memorandum 2020 – 048 extended anew the waiver of fees of fund transfer transactions made through the central bank’s Philippine Payment and Settlement System (PhilPaSS) until the last business day of year 2020.

PhilPaSS is a real time gross settlement (RTGS) system owned and operated by the BSP that processes and settles interbank high value payment transactions of 168 participanting banks through the demand deposit accounts of the bank maintained with the central bank.

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