Small businesses and digital nomads return to wire transfer fee caps

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MANILA — Small business owners and digital workers said Friday that bank transfer and transaction fees should be capped and regulated as these financial charges eat into their income.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda earlier tabled a proposal to tighten regulation and even cap those fees for InstaPay and PesoNet transactions.

Food kiosk owner Marie Jeanette Reyes said that since the fees are transactional, they could add up to a significant sum for small businesses that make multiple online bank transfer transactions daily.

“Kung maya’t maya meron din kaming transaction and maya’t maya din naman yung service charge na ‘yan, kawawa naman kaming maliliit na negosyante. Sana kung once lang din’ yan, pwede pa eh. Kung maya’t maya, malaki ang mababawas sa amin, sa liit ng kinikita namin,” Reyes said.

(If we transact frequently, fees are also often imposed. Small businesses like ours suffer. Fees reduce our very low incomes.)

She said fees should also be uniform so no one wastes time finding the cheapest way to transfer funds.

Even widely used e-wallets will charge fees if their customer’s or provider’s bank has significant service charges on Instapay and Pesonet transactions.

For VTC driver Joel Bergado, although these are part of the digital economy, something must be done to mitigate the inflation of fees.

“Wag lang masyadong malaki, para hindi lugi (but not too much so as not to go bankrupt),” he said.

He said the transaction fees of P15 to P25 per transaction, when combined, is also a huge sum.

Banks and e-wallets previously waived InstaPay and PesoNet fees during the pandemic, but the majority have now reinstated their fees.

BSP has not yet responded to Salceda’s proposal. The Philippine Bankers Association, meanwhile, said these fees are already well regulated and properly disclosed.

InstaPay and PesoNet are part of BSP’s National Retail Payments System (NRPS). InstaPay allows real-time transfer of less than P50,000, while PesoNet is for larger transfer.

InstaPay fees range from P8 to P30, while PesoNet fees range from P8 to P2,100.

If the transaction takes place between financial institutions that have different fee structures, the customer is likely to be charged.

The BSP in 2021 said banks are allowed to waive or reduce their current fees.

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