By Neil Jerome C. Morales
BANKS MAY begin operating mobile automated teller machines (ATMs) outside the vicinity of campuses, hospitals and commercial centers after the central bank eased restrictions on where they can bring them.
Bank officials welcomed the central bank’s move as this will give them greater latitude as to where to bring the mobile ATMs, which take the form of moveable steel kiosks or are transported on armored vans.
In Circular 735 dated Aug. 16, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) amended the Manual of Regulations for Banks that restricted mobile ATMs to centers of activity such as shopping centers, supermarkets, hospitals and university campuses.
The BSP removed the clause saying “mobile ATMs should be allowed to visit only centers of activity.”
“This is just a cleanup of an anachronistic rule,” BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr., explained in a text message yesterday.
The central bank, however, retained the rule that mobile ATMs can be set up only within Metro Manila.
“This circular shall take effect 15 calendar days following its publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation,” the BSP said.
In other countries, mobile ATMs, which come with wireless communication technology and on-site technicians, are available for rent.
Banks bring them during events such as expositions, conventions, sports events, pageants and concerts.
Local bank officials said the BSP’s relaxation of rules will not only give them more room, but will also encourage them to launch more mobile ATMs.
“It will allow banks to service particular centers… where banks have a significant number of clients,” Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) President Pascual M. Garcia III said in a telephone interview yesterday.
“Now that BSP has lifted [the restriction], we will consider putting up more [mobile ATMs],” Mr. Garcia said.
Ismael S. Reyes, first vice-president and head of branch banking at PSBank, said a few years ago, the company launched one mobile ATM and this remains in operation.
“The lifting and easing of restrictions on mobile ATMs will definitely be an incentive for banks to deploy more ATMs,” Lamberto R. Villena, president of Sterling Bank of Asia, Inc., said in a separate text message.
“Generally, banks look at ATMs not necessarily for income generation since ATM fees are not really substantial enough to cover costs, but as a mechanism to increase awareness and advertising. They also serve as a efficient cash distribution channel to encourage deposits,” Mr. Villena added.
Moving forward, banks should be able to operate mobile ATMS outside Metro Manila.
Mr. Garcia said commercial areas in Cebu and Davao would welcome mobile ATMs.
BSP data as of March showed that universal and commercial, thrift and rural and cooperatives maintained a total of 6,252 on-site ATMs and 3,340 off-site ATMs. Mobile ATMs are classified as off-site ATMs.