Consumer complaints to remain high – BSP

Published by rudy Date posted on October 9, 2021

by Lawrence Agcaoili – The Philippine Star, 9 Oct 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects consumer complaints to exceed 20,000 for the second straight year as more Filipinos warm up to the shift to online banking amid the COVID-19 mobility restrictions.

Bridget Rose Mesina-Romero, acting deputy director of the BSP Payment System Oversight Department, said the central bank processed 11,967 consumer complaints from January to June this year through regular complaint channels or the automated chatbot BSP Online Buddy (BOB).

Complaints handled in the first half of the year, she said, involved deposits, credit cards and lending.

“The top issue would be those related to deposits which includes electronic banking, the next would be the credit cards, and the third would be lending. We see a similar trend in 2020 as of the first half of 2021,” she said.

Mesina-Romero told participants of the virtual media lecture series organized by the BSP Communications Office the volume of complaints in the first half represented more than half of the number recorded during the height of the pandemic last year.

“There has been an increase in complaints received by the BSP since last year. But we’re seeing that potentially it could be maintained at or about the same level for this year based on the complaints processed in the first half of this year,” she said.

Data from Consumer Protection and Market Conduct Office of the central bank showed a 152 percent jump in the number of consumer complaints to 23,275 in 2020 from 9,250 in 2019.

The BSP is pushing for the enactment of a law that aims to enhance consumer protection as the number of complaints continues to grow amid the complexity of financial products and services as well as the increased adoption of digitalization in the country.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the central bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission and Cooperative Development Authority are closely coordinating with the Senate for the immediate passage of the proposed Financial Consumer Protection Act (FCPA).

“The Financial Consumer Protection Act is a timely reform amid the growing complexity of financial products and services in the country and is aligned with BSP’s commitment to promote digitalization and protect financial consumer welfare,” Diokno said.

As it promotes the digitalization of financial services, Diokno said the BSP is supporting the passage of the law that will provide consumers legal protection “as they explore the opportunities and face risks associated with the evolving financial landscape.”

In June last year, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 6768 or An Act Affording More Protection to Consumers of Financial Products and Services.

Meanwhile, Senate Bills 60, 534, 1329, 1335, 1739 and 2287 have also been filed and referred to the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies. A sub-committee headed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has been designated to deliberate on these bills.

The legislative measure aims to empower financial regulators to take necessary actions against financial entities performing acts that may undermine consumer welfare and provides a redress mechanism. This is seen to further strengthen the trust and confidence of the public in the financial system.

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