House panel OKs bill regulating bank accounts, e-wallets

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — The House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries has approved a substitute bill that would regulate the use of bank accounts and e-wallets to prevent their use for unusual and suspicious financial activities.

The measure was approved in principle on Thursday. It prohibits acting as a money mule, or accepting money on someone's behalf for questionable purposes.

It will also be illegal to open a bank account or e-wallet to receive, transfer, or withdraw proceeds from crimes, offenses, or "social engineering schemes."

During deliberations, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department Director Melchor Plabasan said the changes they proposed to the measure were aimed at making the bill clearer and consistent with other laws or regulations.

Among the amendments proposed by the BSP include changing the title of the bill, which reads "An Act Regulating the Use of Bank Accounts, E-Wallets, and other Financial Accounts," and deleting the term "phishing" in favor of "social engineering scheme."

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also proposed the inclusion of a provision imposing a penalty that's one degree higher than the punishment provided for by the Revised Penal Code for certain actions prohibited by the measure.

The panel aims to bring the approved measure to the House plenary for further deliberations and approval when sessions resume on Jan. 17.