SENATORS ON Thursday appealed to banks and mobile payment systems to extend the suspension of the collection of fees for digital transactions during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 30 banks and payment systems have so far extended the waiver on fees either until Oct. 31 or Dec. 31 as of Sept. 30, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

“Right now, every family is penny pinching due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic so every peso saved goes a long way,” Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said in a statement on Thursday. “We appeal to our banks and financial institutions to suspend their collection of fees for digital transactions during this very challenging time.”

Ang waiver ng fees sa digital transactions ay maliit na bagay na makakabawas kahit paano sa mga pasanin ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Among the banks that will continue to waive fees until the end of the year are the UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc.; Asia United Bank Corp.; Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, Security Bank Corp.; and Sterling Bank of Asia, Inc. Mobile payment services GCash and PayMaya will likewise not collect fees until Oct. 31.

Meanwhile, others have opted to resume charging fees, namely: BDO Unibank; Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands and Philippine Bank of Communications.

Mr. Angara authored Senate Bill No. 1764 or the Use of Digital Payments Act to institutionalize digital payments in the government and private sectors to improve systems, reduce costs and minimize health risks.

Senator Imee R. Marcos said fees will only offset the 60-day debt moratorium Congress had pushed under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Republic Act No. 11494.

“Banks and fintech companies can certainly afford to postpone new fees for a longer period. Digital payment systems will become even more popular and profitable due to limited public mobility during the pandemic,” the senator said.

She said the added expense might burden small businesses that are only restarting operations. She proposed to suspend charges for money transfers, over-the-counter transactions and cash withdrawals via Mastercard, among others. — C.A. Tadalan