By Billy Begas
Instead of imposing additional charges to 58 million ATM users, AnaKalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor said banks should use their excess capital to enlarge the ATM networks.
Defensor said the banks now have plenty of surplus capital amid the decline in lending due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In fact, one bank is so awash with capital, it is paying out a record P18 billion in special dividends to shareholders next month, even after setting aside P41 billion in reserves against potential bad loans,” said Defensor.
Starting April 7, banks are poised to jack up their interbank ATM withdrawal fees. Most banks will impose P18 per transaction.
Currently, banks are charging around P10 to P11 per transaction, with no more than five charging between P12 to P15.
Banks need the extra fee income to grow the national ATM network, which currently has only 21,762 terminals, according to the Bankers Association of the Philippines.
Cardholders who want to avoid paying the higher fee can simply cancel the transaction and look for an adjacent terminal offering a lower charge, the industry group said.
“But in reality, users will have little or no choice because based on our survey, at least 10 of the biggest banks that dominate the national ATM network are already set to evenly impose the P18 fee,” Defensor said.