MANILA - Government should suspend the resumption of banks' online transaction fees via Instapay until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a nongovernment policy think tank said Sunday.
Some banks had waived fees until the end of the year, "indicating that the costs to allow free transfers are nil if not negligible," Infrawatch Philippines said.
"If the smaller banks can do it, with more certainty can the bigger banks do it as well," the group said in a statement, noting that the country's largest banks charge P50 per transaction which translates to a non-interest monthly revenue of P1.473 billion.
"[M]ost importantly, the BSP should step in and suspend the return of bank transfer fees until the end of the public health emergency."
Monthly transactions of InstaPay, which lets banking clients transfer up to P50,000 per transaction, rose 820 percent from August 2019, according to Infrawatch Philippines.
Online transfers will decrease as fees return, it added.
"As the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas had rightfully intervened in setting interest rate ceilings in credit card transactions, it should similarly do the same for bank transfer fees," the group said.
Banks initially waived online transaction fees voluntarily. The BSP later urged all entities under its regulation to waive such fees to encourage the public to use online banking as part of efforts to hecl the spread of COVID-19.