SOME BANKS are eyeing to adjust their interbank charges.

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) has received “below 10” applications from banks for adjustments of fees for transactions coursed through automated teller machines (ATM) after the moratorium on such tweaks was lifted last month, a senior official said on Wednesday.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier declined to identify the banks applying for fee adjustments in order to not preempt the evaluation process being conducted by the central bank.

Para na ring preemptive kung magdi-disclose kami ng names. In the process kasi (It will be preemptive if we disclose any names because their applications are still being processed),” Ms. Fonacier said on the sidelines of the briefing.

“’Yung number naman na so far [na nag-apply] ano pa lang…low pa lang. (But the number of applications is still low) Below 10,” she said.

However, Ms. Fonacier, who is deputy governor of BSP’s Financial Supervision Sector, said some banks are applying to “minimally” hike their interbank charge — or the fee charged when a customer withdraws his/her money from a different bank’s ATM — while some want to reduce it.

“Prevailing” benchmark interbank fees range from P11 to P15, averaging at P13 per transaction, Vicente T. De Villa III, senior director and officer-in-charge at the BSP’s Financial Technology Subsector, said in the same briefing.

“I think it’s best to just take in mind the prevailing rate… Anything beyond those prevailing rates, that would be evaluated thoroughly,” Mr. De Villa said.

Ms. Fonacier said whatever fee adjustments “on a per-bank basis” that will be decided on by the central bank will be reasonable and market-based.

Only applications with the complete set documents will be evaluated. The evaluation process will take place immediately for 20 banking days, Mr. De Villa said.

Should the petitioning bank get its fee adjustment approved, implementation is another matter, Ms. Fonacier said.

“Since you’re implementing a new fee, your customers should be informed,” Ms. Fonancier said.

Ang requirement kasi namin (Our requirement is) they need to also inform their customers. So depende kung paano yung communication plan nila. Kasi ‘yun ‘yung requirement ng BSP (So it’ll depend on the bank how they will communicate that with their clients, because that’s the BSP’s requirement),” she said.

As of end-March, there are 21,682 ATMs in the country, BSP data showed.

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Tuesday said the lifting of the moratorium on ATM fee adjustments does not mean banks will adjust their charges immediately.

This comes amid a planned probe of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries of the impending hike in fees for transactions coursed through the ATMs. — Mark T. Amoguis