THE HOUSE Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries on Tuesday approved a measure providing for the protection of financial consumers.
House Bill 8301 or the Financial Consumer Protection Act seeks to put in place a comprehensive framework for financial consumer protection in light of the increasing services and products being offered.
“Financial services is a range of services covered by different financial regulators, so definitely there is a gap in term of having mechanisms in place to ensure the protection of financial consumers,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Director Pia Bernadette Roman-Tayag told the panel.
“House Bill 8301 empowers consumers and regulatory agencies. Consumers can dissect bundled products and pricing details, and are given a cooling off period during which they can cancel or return the contract entered into without penalty, not including the processing fees,” said Panel chair Henry C. Ong of the 2nd district of Leyte.
The bill establishes a financial consumer protection assistance mechanism through which providers may address complaints, requests and other concerns of clients. It also seeks to ensure that financial products are offered according to the needs of the client. A cooling-off period will also be provided to consider costs and risks of a particular product.
“A financial person is expected to adopt a clear cooling-off policy, as may be prescribed by law or by rules and regulations issued by the relevant financial regulator upon its determination that a cooling-off period is necessary for a particular product subject of regulation by such financial regulator,” the bill stated.
Moreover, companies or financial service providers shall be required to document the reasons for setting the price of each of their products and ensure client data remains protected.
As regulators, the BSP, Securities and Exchange Commission and Insurance Commission are empowered to formulate their own rules and conduct surveillance off-site and on-site, among others.
For his part, IC Legal Liaison Officer Denis C. Cabucos supported the proposal: “I think it’s high time to have a separate consumer protection framework for consumers of financial products.”
“We have now specific provision under this bill that we can use to go after financial providers taking advantage of financial consumers,” he added. — C.A. Tadalan