House panel approves bill regulating online banking, e-wallet

Edu Punay – The Filipino Star

January 15, 2022 | 00:00

MANILA, Philippines — A House panel has approved for plenum consideration a measure that will regulate the use of bank accounts and e-wallets in online transactions, in a bid to curb the proliferation of cybercrimes.

The Banks and Financial Intermediaries Committee approved in principle the Substitute Bill No. 9615 filed by the Chairman of the Committee and Quirino Representative Junie Cua, HB 10141 filed by Camarines Sur LRay Villafuerte Representative and HB 10412 by the representative of the party list Magdalo Manuel Cabochan III.

This means the action will be taken once the chamber resumes session next week after its Christmas break.

Cua cited the importance of the measure due to the exponential growth of electronic financial transactions, as well as the increase in cybercrimes that have been victimized by public depositors and banks.

In a hearing last Thursday, the panel addressed amendments proposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the bill.

BSP specifically proposed changing the title of the bill to read: “An Act to Regulate the Use of Bank Accounts, Electronic Wallets and Other Financial Accounts;” addition of the definition of “e-wallet”; redefinition of “money mule”; and removing the term “phishing” and replacing it with the term “social engineering scheme” on all references to phishing in the bill.

Director of BSP’s Technology Risk and Innovation Oversight Department, Melchor Plabasan, told lawmakers that the changes were aimed at making the bill more clear and consistent with other regulations or laws.

The PNP, on the other hand, proposed the inclusion of a provision stating that “a punishment one degree higher than that provided by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be, shall be pronounced if the same is committed by and through the acts as defined in Article 4 of this law.” The panel also addressed the serious bottleneck facing the PNP and the Ministry of Justice in pursuing the issue of obtaining information from banks, which Cua said would be resolved by the BSP.

Cua also assured that the measure would solve the problem of law enforcement agencies obtaining an arrest warrant. “We will fix it by improving the wording of this bill,” he promised.


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