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BSP waives interbank payment fees amid lockdown

BSP waives interbank payment fees amid lockdown

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has waived the transaction fees imposed on interbank payments to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 outbreak.

BSP Deputy Governor Maria Almasara Cyd Tuaño-Amador has issued a memorandum extending a temporary relief measure on real time fund transfer system transactions among banks and non-banks under the central bank’s Philippine Payment and Settlement System (PhilPaSS).

“In light of the significant impact of the outbreak of the COVID-19 to the operations of financial institutions and financial markets, the BSP is providing a temporary relief measure to participants of the PhilPaSS, ultimately to benefit the Philippine economy and the general banking public,” Amador said.

She said that transaction fees for fund transfer instructions with PhilPaSS are waived from April 1 to 30 amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

The regulator said charges incurred prior to the issuance of the memorandum would be reversed.

Covered transactions include interbank, peso-leg of dollar trades, peso-leg of government securities trades, Philippine Clearing House Corp. (PCHC) transactions, ATM transactions, and manual processing of interbank transactions.

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 banks through the demand deposit accounts of the bank maintained with the central bank.

RTGS is a fund transfer system where transfer of money or securities takes place from one bank to another on a real-time and on gross basis.

The system has 168 participants including big, mid-sized and small banks as well as non-banks with quasi-banking functions and external institutions.

The BSP ensures that the operation of PhilPaSS is continuous, safe and efficient so that time-critical payments are completed as expected to facilitate and enhance economic processes, manage risks, and absorb shocks in order to promote financial stability.

Meanwhile, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno continues to push the use of electronic payments to minimize face-to-face transactions and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We can do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 by staying home,” Diokno said.

Diokno said that Filipinos should use e-payment services such as PESONet and InstaPay when purchasing essentials like food and medicines, when transferring money to accounts of loved ones, and when paying utility bills, loans and other obligations.

The BSP chief pointed out that fees for these services have been waived during the effectivity of the enhanced community quarantine.

Usage of e-payments reduces people’s need for mobility, helps prevent health risks of physical contact during over-the-counter transactions, partially addresses difficulties of providing cash supply to ATMs and bank branches, and supports the general objectives of the ongoing community quarantine.