Filipino workers appeal ATM fee hike

Workers commonly withdraw from ATMs since salaries are now received through them. However, long queues in popular banks force depositors to use ATMs of other banks.
| Philstar.com photo

Partido Manggagawa chair Rene Magtubo on Tuesday, August 13, said workers are appealing to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to suspend the impending increase in fees for transactions conducted through banks’ automated teller machines (ATMs).

Workers commonly withdraw from ATMs since salaries are now received through them. However, long queues at popular banks force depositors to use the ATMs of other banks.

Currently, interbank fees on ATM withdrawals range from P10 to P15.

On Monday, August 12, Makati City Rep. Luis N. Campos, Jr. noted that ATM fees could increase by as much as 50 percent.

The hike is expected to be implemented by banks following the lifting of a six-year moratorium on fee increases enforced by BSP.

“Charging P15 per withdrawal is already burdensome. Doubling the fee would be onerous on workers receiving their wages through payroll ATM accounts,” Magtubo pointed out.

He also said that the P15 fee is almost 3% of the daily minimum wage rate in Metro Manila, so if the ATM fee doubled, it would take away 6 to 8% of the minimum wage of workers per withdrawal. 

“This is highway robbery,” Magtubo said.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, meanwhile, gave banks a reminder that the cash they put inside the ATMs are actually cash they only borrowed from their depositors. 

“This is why banks are paying interest on deposits,” he said.

Pimentel offered his support to calls led by Makati City Rep. Luis Campos for a House inquiry into the planned ATM fee increases. 

“Offhand, we see no justification for banks to impose ATM charges in excess of the P10 to P15 that they are currently collecting per single interbank withdrawal transaction, considering that depositors are merely taking money that they lent to the bank,” Pimentel said.

“Besides, banks are already extracting way too many superfluous fees from depositors, including the P300 to P500 monthly charge slapped on accounts falling below the P10,000 to P25,000 minimum monthly average daily balance, not to mention the dormancy levies on inactive accounts,” he added.

Pimentel also urged the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries to investigate where the ATM charges go. 

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