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Monday, August 20, 2012

Banco De Oro (BDO) to Charge P2 for Every ATM Withdrawal in the Philippines?

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MANILA, Philippines - Starting September 1, it will cost a BDO depositor P2 every time he/she withdraws his/her own money from any BDO terminal. The new fee advisory was being flashed on the bank's 1,596 ATM-network as each terminal dispensed wads of cash for the duration of the four-day weekend.

The country's biggest bank, BDO is the first local bank to reintroduce the unpopular fee since the industry recoiled amid a storm of consumer protest more than a decade ago.

Since then, local banks, no matter the size, have always exempted their own depositors from any ATM fee so long as the withdrawal is made from the depositor's own bank ATM network. But withdrawals made on other bank's ATMs are hit with P10-11 fee for every transaction.

Individual banks do not normally publish their depositor base or the number of transactions that their own home networks process each day. But a rare glimpse of the magnitude of the potential windfall from such automated transactions may be gleaned from a yearend account by BancNet, the largest of the three ATM consortiums in the country. (BDO happens to be a Megalink member.)

BancNet chief operating officer Aristeo Zafra Jr. said a record 2.282 million "switched" transactions was recorded on the BancNet network last December 15. Switched transactions, as defined by BancNet, are mostly withdrawals and balance inquiries done on ATMs other than the ATMs of the cardholder's bank. These are done not only by the consortium's own cardholders but also by cardholders of other networks such as Megalink and BPI-dominated ExpressNet.

December 15 happened to be payday for government offices and most private companies. It was also the same day, BancNet said, when most Christmas bonuses were distributed and credited into employee bank accounts. "Withdrawals usually peak on the payday before Christmas on account of the fact that majority of ATM accounts are payroll accounts," Zafra said.

The volume on the Friday before Christmas, December 23 came very close to December 15, with 2.278 million switched transactions, followed by December 29, the payday before the New Year weekend which posted 2.083 million switched transactions. BancNet said it had over 12 million ATM cardholders and 5,700 ATMs at end-2011, comprising 37.4 percent and 50 percent, respectively, of all cardholders and ATMs in the country.

At P2 each withdrawal multiplied by a modest two withdrawals a month, that could potentially translate to P48 million a month in extra income for the banks. BDO so far has the most generous ceiling for ATM withdrawals for its own depositors, allowing up to P50,000 cash withdrawal a day at a maximum P25,000 for every ATM transaction.

Update:
BDO Unibank Inc. on Monday denied a report that it will start imposing a P2 fee for all cash withdrawals on its ATMs.

BDO clarified that a P2 fee will only be imposed for ATM withdrawals using cash (debit) cards or BDO pre-paid cards, starting September 1. At present, users of BDO's re-loadable Cash Card are not charged for balance inquiry and withdrawals from BDO ATMs.

"The P2 fee will only be effective on withdrawals of clients using cash cards (or BDO prepaid cards), similar to what other industry players are implementing. This is to partially recover our cost on cash handling. BDO account holders are not affected by this development," Jaime Nasol, head of BDO's cash management services, said, in a statement. A cash card is a re-loadable prepaid electronic debit card, such as BDO Cash Card. Other similar cards are BPI Express Cash and Smart's Smart Money.

The Sy-led bank was reacting to a report published on TV5's news website Interaksyon titled "BDO imposes P2 fee for every depositor's ATM withdrawal." The report claimed that starting September 1, BDO depositors will be charged P2 for each time he will withdraw money from BDO ATMs.

Source & Image Credit: Interaksyon & ABS-CBN News via everything in budget blog


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