House OKs bill regulating online payments
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill regulating online payments that are believed to amount to billions of pesos a day.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, chairman of the committee on banks and financial intermediaries and sponsor of House Bill 5000, said there is no agency authorized to supervise and regulate online payments.

 “Congress has to step in, since this is becoming a big sector of the economy. Billions of pesos are transacted everyday, and yet, there is no agency to turn to in case of abuses and malpractices,” he said.

Evardone cited as an example money remittance companies. He said banking laws do not empower the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to regulate these businesses.

“It’s the Anti-Money Laundering Law that covers them, but that is only insofar as money laundering activities are concerned. That law does not cover the business side of remittances,” Evardone said.

He said if the remittance company delays sending the money to its beneficiary or cheats him, the aggrieved party has no specific agency to go to and no law to invoke.

 “There have been many victims of businesses facilitating their transactions through online payment systems,” he added.

Aside from Evardone, the authors of Bill 5000 include former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque, Tom Villarin of Akbayan and Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman of Anak Mindanao.

The bill is titled, “An Act providing for the regulation and supervision of payment systems.”

It mandates the BSP to put in place “safe, efficient and reliable payment systems to control systemic risk and provide an environment conducive to the sustainable growth of the economy.”

The BSP is tasked to follow internationally accepted standards and practices in supervising and regulating online payment. It can establish its own system if necessary.

The BSP is required to strictly observe the confidentiality of information obtained in exercising its supervisory and regulatory authority.

Payment system participants are required to register with the BSP.

Violators would be fined P200,000 to P2 million, or imprisonment of two to 10 years, or both at the discretion of the court.

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