Prepaid load expiry regardless of amount extended to one year from loading

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DICT Officer-in-Charge Eliseo Rio, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba sign the joint memorandum giving a one-year an expiration date for all prepaid credits regardless of amount.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 20) — Unused prepaid credits from mobile networks will now have a lifespan of one year from the time it's loaded into your phone, trade and telecommunications officials announced Wednesday.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), signed a joint memorandum stating that prepaid loads regardless of the amount will have an expiration date to last up to a year from top-up.

"With this circular, President Rodrigo Duterte hopes to give the public a gift this holiday season that everyone can truly benefit from in the coming years," a statement from Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

The amendment which extends the expiry date to one year, allows cellphone users in the country more time to use their prepaid loads, the government agencies said. There are 130 million cellphone subscriptions in the Philippines, as of December 2016, more than double from 2009, statistics show.

The move is also meant to help small and medium-sized businesses, he said, as well as to protect consumers.

"DTI is confident that our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will be able to do business more easily thanks to this circular, whether by making calls or sending an SMS to their customers, or by accessing the internet to conduct e-commerce," Lopez said, referring to Short Messaging Service.

MSMEs make up 99.5 percent of the country's economy, said the DTI.

The government agencies amended NTC's Memorandum Circular No. 03-07-2009, or the Guidelines on Prepaid Loads, which state that validity of prepaid loads shall correspond to the amount of load purchased.

In the previous version of the circular, the larger the prepaid credits, the longer it takes to expire. Load worth ₱10 or lower shall be used within three days, while prepaid credits more than ₱300 may last up to four months.

The only type of load excluded from the joint memorandum circular will be those prepaid loads purchased for promotions and other services with a specific period of use, as approved by DTI and NTC.