When Your Virtual Wallet Hits a Snag, Who Do You Call?

Turns out you can reach out to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) Everyone has gone through the dreaded "customer service" experience at least once before. You know it: spending hours on end waiting for someone to take your call, or going around in circles with chat bots, endless e-mail threads, and more. With the rise of virtual wallets in the past few months, and with it the scary instances of maybe losing track of where our very real and hard-earned money went, we have to ask: "What happens when customer service is basically worthless?" Time for some real talk.

"They are covered by our consumer protection framework," says Joyce Suficiencia, director of the inclusive finance advocacy staff of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, about digital financial platforms (a.k.a. "E-Money") in an online conference with Summit Media. "We call them the [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)] financial supervised institutions or the BSFIs. That covers all banks, e-money issuers like PayMaya, GCash, and all these wallet providers—all are covered by our regulations," clarified Suficiencia. 

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So here's the short answer: The next time customer service isn't getting you anywhere, you can reach out to the BSP with a formal complaint. 

And here's the long answer: "When we see a trend in the complaints, we elevate it to the the financial supervision department," continues the director. They look into these trends when they examine the financial entities involved and once their findings come in, so do the penalties for any faults found. "All these complaints that we're getting are basically inputs to supervisory action," says Suficiencia.

While this means the best thing would still be to get a proper response from your virtual wallet's customer service, heading to the BSP will always be an option. And ICYMI, the BSP virtual chatbot went live in August. Called BOB—short for BSP Online Buddyyou can use this channel to send in your complaints. 

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BOB is available to talk on three platforms:

  • BSP Webchat
  • SMS – 21582277 (for Globe subscribers only; BOB will also be made available for other network subscribers soon)
  • BSP Facebook

"We're trying to beef up and enhance our cybersecurity regulations," added Suficencia. Her department over at the BSP is working on making sure consumers themselves are equipped with enough knowledge to practice digital finance. They have launched digital literacy programs: E-Safe Payments at Home in April; and cybersecurity awareness, with the aim of giving "consumers enough confidence and knowledge to use digital financial services in a safe manner."

According to 2019 BSP data, the number of adults with E-Money accounts rose by 7 percentage points from 2017—and they've yet to account for the growth that occured during quarantine. With the ever-growing shift to digital wallets, it is definitely best to know what you—and your service providers—can and can't do.

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