GCash is one of the biggest financial apps in the Philippines. This e-wallet service provides tons of features, which is why it’s no surprise that it already has 71 million registered users.
You can use GCash on a lot of things: money transfers, paying bills, subscribing to streaming services, and more. It is also being used by offline or physical stores to accept payments on services and products.
The use of GCash in physical stores has stirred some controversy recently after a Twitter user said that a convenience store in Boracay charged him an extra Php15 fee for purchasing bottled water that only costs Php20 via GCash.
This Twitter post stirred a debate on social media. Some users defended the practice as these business establishments, as well as some delivery riders, have to pay a cash-out fee to withdraw the money GCash users used to pay for their products or services.
However, some users said that, while they do understand the convenience fee merchants are paying, businesses or any entities shouldn’t charge every single customer an extra fee since a cash-out transaction can be done all at once.
For those who are unfamiliar, you can cash out money from GCash through ATMs or over the counter via cash-out centers all over the country. These entities charge a cash-out fee ranging from Php10 or higher, depending on the amount.
But the question is, should businesses, delivery riders, or any other entities impose an additional charge when you pay using GCash? Let’s find out.
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Can stores charge an extra fee on GCash payments?
Based on the guidelines from government agencies, the short answer is NO.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) states that GCash is a government-supervised electronic money issuer (EMI). A GCash account stores Philippine money a.k.a e-money, which is a digital version of real, fiat banknotes. This simply means that GCash money is considered legal tender.
Moreover, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued guidelines on payment options back in 2021. It included electronic fund transfers and QR codes to make sure that consumers have access to various modes of payment for services and products.
The guidelines state that consumers can pay in cash, installment, or a combination of both when buying something. Consumers also have the right to pick their preferred mode of payment.
“There should be no additional charge on the selling price if the mode of payment is through debit/credit/prepaid cards, QR codes, electronic fund transfers, or other digital means available, as preferred by the buyer,” the DTI said.
Are merchants allowed to decline GCash as a mode of payment?
A tweet from lawyer Jesus Falcis said that business entities cannot refuse buyers who want to pay using GCash and are not allowed to charge more than what they charge customers who are using actual paper money.
In a separate post, Atty. Lee Anne Therese Yabut explains that e-money (like GCash) is a digital representation of fiat currency, which is why the BSP has considered it as legal tender. And based on the law, entities that don’t accept legal tender could possibly get in trouble with the authorities.
What if the merchant doesn’t have a GCash account?
Falcis made it clear that merchants should only accept GCash payments if they have already set up a GCash account. If not, then they wouldn’t be forced or required to accept payments through the e-wallet service.
What happens to merchants who won’t comply with the DTI guidelines?
The Consumer Act states that those who will not comply with DTI’s guidelines can face a fine of up to Php10,000 or imprisonment of five months to a year, or both, depending on the court’s decision, the DTI explained.
What to do if a merchant asks for extra fees when paying via GCash?
If you’re transacting with small stores, you may choose to give in and pay the convenience, as long as it’s reasonable and in proportion to the amount of your transaction.
But if a store insists for an extra and unreasonable convenience fee when you’re paying using GCash, you can reach the DTI office through its email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call its hotline at One-DTI (1-384).