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Banking opportunism


BY JOHNNY DAYANG


It may have been delayed for a while but come April 2021, the banks, in a clever effort to draw more blood from a poor man’s savings or salary, are imposing higher fees for the use of the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). They want P18 for every withdrawal from ATMs outside financial institutions where he has deposit or account!

To block the move, lawmakers are urging Congress to hasten the deliberation of House Bill No. 4019, the proposed ATM Fee Regulation Act of 2019, which would nail down ATM interbank transactions to a maximum of P5 each. Under the current setup, banks allow clients to extract P10,000 from ATMs per transaction. Under four withdrawals per day rule, the charges, if the new rate is applied, will shoot to P72!

Today’s ATMs, unlike their early versions, are restrictive and offer only three main transactions, namely payments, balance inquiry, and withdrawal. All these operations have been programmed to favor banks even though they are already making a killing from whatever money is left in an account. Each time you withdraw or inquire about your account, the bank profits.

Past bank gadgets were more liberal; they received deposit checks and cash. Today, customers deposit their cash directly to their accounts through counters, but transactions using the machines are to the customer’s depository bank.

Abroad, ATM devices have evolved into multi-functional tools. Many offer better options. From transacting loads to buying articles online, these new generation robots have become sophisticated gizmos that they can rival trendy mobile phone banks.

While banks have every right to earn from the point of view of investment, they must also jack up their present interest rates from nearly zero to more acceptable percentages. Financial agencies only offer less than a percent for deposits or savings. If tax is deducted from whatever morsel you get for allowing banks to handle your money, in the end you get almost nothing.

Another disgusting ATM practice banks use is to issue only P500 and P1,000 bills. It means that any amount below P500 cannot be withdrawn and will be eventually gobbled up to charges, such as fees for monthly or daily maintaining balance. Banks earn money from policies customers do not have control of even if they own the accounts. Worse, interbank transactions between branches are not spared anymore from the trap.

Given that the campaign to build a robust economy is linked to a saving-conscious population, the strategies presently employed in mainstream banking are anathema to this objective. Frankly speaking, banks have now sort of become financial bullies.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Desk

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