Fortifying digital finance (3)

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, or BSP, also issued regulations to safeguard consumers in the financial marketplace.

On 28 November 2022, BSP issued Circular No. 1160, series of 2022, to implement Republic Act 11765 or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Act. BSP required Bangko Sentral-Supervised Institutions or BSIs like banks, trust companies, and e-money issuers to establish a single Financial Consumer Protection Assistance Mechanism.

The FCPAM shall provide free assistance to financial consumers on their concerns with the financial products, services, and/or transactions with the BSI. This is a first-level recourse mechanism to handle consumer complaints, inquiries, and requests. Accordingly, BSP required BSIs to adopt simplified requirements and procedures for the availment of the FCPAM by financial consumers.

Financial consumers unsatisfied with the BSI’s handling of their complaints, inquiries, or requests at the FCPAM level may escalate their concerns with the BSP Consumer Assistance Mechanism or CAM. BSP laid down the rules of procedure for CAM and the Mediation and Adjudication of Cases in Circular No. 1169, series of 2023, on 24 March 2023.

Complaints may be filed with the Consumer Protection and Market Conduct Office either personally or through the BSP Online Buddy Chatbot, postal mail, courier, electronic mail, or other electronic means. Consumers may also request assistance in filing their complaints from the BSP regional offices or branches. Complainants have the option to proceed with either mediation or adjudication after resorting to the CAM.

Aside from the establishment of CAM, BSIs are mandated to integrate the Consumer Protection Risk Management System into their enterprise-wide risk management processes and risk governance framework. The CPRMS shall be the foundation for ensuring BSI’s adherence to Consumer Protection Standards of Conduct, particularly (a) disclosure and transparency; (b) protection of client information; (c) fair treatment; (d) effective recourse; and (e) protection of consumer assets against fraud and misuse.

In line with these standards, BSIs are prohibited from employing abusive collection or debt recovery practices against financial consumers. BSIs are likewise made solidarily liable with their accredited or authorized agents, representatives, or third-party service providers for their acts or omissions in marketing and transactions — which may include debt collection — with financial consumers for its financial products or services.

The protection afforded to financial consumers by the regulations implemented and enforced by the financial regulations aims to fortify the growth of the financial services industry as it navigates the digital platform.

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