Tuesday, November 20News That Matters

Palawan Express Pera Padala Now Asking Personal Questions to Clients is Invasion of Privacy

First of all, I’ve been a client of Palawan Express Pera Padala by Palawan Pawnshop for more than a year. So far, I did not encounter any problem in sending and receiving money and their staff was polite. But last month, they started asking me personal questions like what’s my relationship with the sender and what’s the money for, and I think this is invasion of privacy.

“Mura. Mabilis. Walang Kuskos-balungos. (Cheap. Fast. No hassle.)” Says the tagline of Palawan Express Pera Padala. Well, I can say that all of them were initially true at least based on my experience. But then, the hassle started when I was asked, “Kaanu-ano nyo po yung nagpadala?” and “Para saan po yung pera?” – Excuse me?

“But isn’t it invasion of privacy on my part and to the sender?” I asked the teller politely. According to her, it’s a new management policy as required by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Anti-Money Laundering Council (BSP/AMLC). That was also the reply of the teller to my cousin, the receiving end. This made me raise my eyebrows and wonder.

I was not really planning to take it seriously until the other day when a friend sent money to me via Palawan Express Pera Padala. Of course, I was happy but when I saw the new form, I was surprised to see that they have now additional blanks to fill-in – Purpose of Transaction and Relationship to Sender. The Sender form also has them.

And because it really pissed me off, I rushed to Facebook and I saw several complaints. In fact, some of them were sent to the official Facebook page of Palawan Pawnshop – Palawan Express Pera Padala. But the apparently, they were told to be replied via Private Message. So I decided to send them a message and I got this reply.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, As required by the BSP/AMLC, all customers must undergo KYC or proper identification for security purposes of the remittance. Yes all remittance company and even banks are conducting KYC procedure. Thank you.” I was not satisfied with the answer so I asked the Support at Palawan Pawnshop’s website.

“We apologized for the inconvenience experienced. With regards to your report, This is in line with our Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance procedures imposed by BSP to prevent being used, intentionally or unintentionally, by criminal elements for money laundering activities. Thank you for understanding.” The Support said, adding that this policy started in March 2018.

I decided to do a research at Google and found a document at BSP’s official website regarding their memorandum to all pawnshops about money laundering. There, the problem of money laundering was explained including the powers of AMLC, the illegal activities they cover, and what the government is doing to stop such activities, among others.

I then focused on #9 which explains the Customer Identification Requirements – KYC (Know Your Customer Rule), as mentioned by Palawan Express Pera Padala to me. According to AMLC, covered institutions shall:

* Establish and record the true identity of their clients based on official documents.

* In case of individual clients, maintain a system of verifying the true identity of their clients.

* In case of corporate clients, require a system verifying their legal existence and organizational structure, as well as the authority and identification of all persons purporting to act in their behalf.

* Establish appropriate systems and methods based on internationally compliant standards and adequate internal controls for verifying and recording the true and full identify of their customers.

Yes, I think that this is a good move of the government. I understand that BSP/AMLC wants to make sure that the sender/receiver are the ones they claim to be and they want to keep records of their transactions. But isn’t the form showing the complete names of clients? Isn’t showing valid IDs not enough to prove we are real people?

I also don’t understand why we still have to mention our relationship with the receiver or sender? And most of all, I don’t understand why we also have to identify the purpose of transaction? That’s too personal! I remember a woman who got pissed off when I heard her explaining what she’s going to buy from the money she received from her husband.

“Ibibili ko ng bagong panty, kelangan ko pa bang sabihin sayo? (I will buy new panties, should I really tell you this?)” She screamed, after the male teller asked her to be more specific. Mind you, the same teller had asked her earlier and she said she’s going to shop. But then, he insisted on knowing what specific things she will buy. Who cares?!

As for me, I was embarrassed to tell the teller that I was borrowing money from my friend so she sent me some. And yes, the teller insisted that I should be specific, but I instead wrote it as “payment.” Did I commit a crime? I did not even have to tell it to my mother, so what’s the point allowing a total stranger to know about it? So yes, I really think this is invasion of privacy.

 
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