With less than a week left until the conclusion of Benigno Aquino III’s term as President of the Philippines, Congress has passed - pending his signature – a new bill to regulate the country’s credit card industry. It could very well be among the last pieces of legislation Aquino might be signing into law before he leaves office.
CNN Philippines reports that this bill, the “Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Act”, will place all credit card issuers, acquirers and transactions under the supervision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. It aims to protect cardholders from harassment by debt collection agents, prohibit practices both abusive and unfair by card issuers, and empowers the BSP to issue rules of conduct or operational standards for the credit card industry as a whole.
For purposes of legislation, the bill defines a credit card as “any card or other credit device intended for the purpose of obtaining money, property, or services on credit”.
A statement from the Lower House of Congress reveals that further regulations of the bill require a credit card issuer to maintain transparency, making available to potential and current cardholders all finance charges for their late payments, and giving warning to these same card companies against the unauthorized release of their cardholders’ personal information and data. The BSP would have oversight and the authority to impose penalties on institutions in the event of non- compliance to the uniform rules and standards of operation, with the Monetary Board determining compliance by the conduct of examinations. In conclusion, the Bangko Sentral may also limit or completely prohibit the charging of an annual membership fee for all credit cards that do so.
Companies or individuals violating the bill itself or any rules passed by the BSP Monetary Board could face fines of up to 200,000 Pesos, imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.
The “CC Industry Regulation Act” bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in May last year. The Senate passed it on its Final Reading this January 2016, with concurrence by the Lower House on May 23, the day before Congress adjourned. As of this writing it only needs President Aquino to sign it into law.
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