MANILA, Philippines – Most clients of the Bank of the Philippine Islands can now rest easy – you don’t have to have your ATM and mobile banking services held hostage if you haven’t complied with the recent BPI circular on updating client information.
The Ayala-led bank recently stirred up a hornet’s nest when they released an advisory on the 26th of August, asking all clients to update their account information by the 31st of August, or risk losing access to the bank’s electronic channels. The circular asked all customers to fill out the Customer Information Sheet and submit this together with a copy of a picture-bearing ID.
The short notice angered customers across the country, who took their angst to social media.
After receiving feedback, the bank quickly amended their advisory, first announcing that the deadline for making updates was for September 30, and not for the end of August as originally stated. A second advisory was again released on the 30th of August, indicating that the advisory was not meant for all customers, but only for those with whom the bank had directly communicated with.
“We wish to clarify that these recent announcements apply only to a limited number of individuals, with whom we have already communicated separately. Should you have any questions, please visit us at the branch where you maintain your account or e-mail us at [email protected],” BPI said.
Up until the 31st of August, long queues of customers waiting to update their information filled up BPI branches nationwide, indicating that a lot of people were still not on point regarding the advisory. The bank’s circular was in keeping with the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Circular 206, which requires financial institutions to regularly update its customer information records.
If you are one of those people who are required to update account information with the bank, or if you have done so already, even if the latest advisory excuses you from doing so, here are a few things that you need to know:
The first is that BPI’s Customer Information Sheet seems to double as a waiver form that gives the bank permission to disclose the full details of your account to possible third parties, according to the CIS’ fine print:
The second part of the CIS deals with BPI’s new account on-boarding procedures to fully comply with the requirements of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for US citizen. If you are a US citizen and a current account holder of BPI, signing this form waives your rights under the confidentiality and data privacy laws in the Philippines, as indicated by the form’s fine print. This means that (should you think you may need to use it) the Philippines’ Bank Secrecy Law no longer applies to you:
Were BPI’s premature announcements truly an error or a shrewd ploy to get as many people to comply as quickly as possible?
Whatever the case may be, the moral of the story seems that in cases of extremely dramatic announcements, one should wait for the dust to settle, the apologies to come, and to read the fine print before one acts.