BSP orders freeze on InstaPay, PESONet fee hikes


THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) imposed a moratorium on increases in InstaPay and PESONet fees for person-to-person fund transfers, in a bid to hasten the Philippines’ transition into a cash-lite economy.

The Monetary Board on Dec. 23 approved the moratorium on any hike in fund transfer fees through PESONet and InstaPay, effective immediately. The Memorandum No. M-2021-071 was signed by BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Dec. 28

PESONet is an electronic fund transfer scheme under the National Retail Payment System which can be considered as an electronic alternative to the check system. It is ideal for high-value business transactions beyond P50,000 and is credited to the receiver by the end of a banking day.

InstaPay is its retail counterpart which allows for real-time transfer of funds up to P50,000, making it ideal for e-commerce as well as urgent payment needs.

“The lifting of the moratorium shall be reviewed by the BSP upon issuance of pricing standard/guidelines or once the volume of digital payments reaches 40% of the total retail payments in the country, whichever is earlier,” Mr. Diokno said.

The central bank is hoping that 50% of payments will be done online by 2023.

In 2020, digital payments made up 20.1% of all transaction in terms of volume, the BSP earlier said. This is an improvement from the 10% in 2018 and the mere 1% in 2013.

The rise in the country’s online transactions was fueled by payment-to-merchant and person-to-person use cases, the BSP said.

“The said moratorium is expected to not only help the economy but also sustain the momentum in the use of digital payments,” Mr. Diokno said.

The BSP said transfer fees that are currently waived may only be restored up to the amount that was reported to the central bank prior to the moratorium.

Meanwhile, financial institutions that have yet to offer InstaPay and PESONet services are expected to report their initial rates to the BSP’s Payment System Oversight Department at least 60 days before its implementation.

Compliance by financial institutions will be monitored by the Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) as part of its mandate as the BSP-accredited payment system management body. The PPMI is expected to report to the central bank cases of noncompliance within the next banking day from the date of notice.

At the start of the pandemic, many financial institutions waived their InstaPay and PESONet transfer fees as a relief measure for consumers. The BSP has extended the waiver of fees for fund transfers until the end of 2021.

Based on the BSP’s latest advisory, there are over 30 financial institutions that still offer free InstaPay and PESONet transfers at least until Dec. 31. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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