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Singapore Adds Digital Banking Security Measures

Additional measures have been announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) to protect clients from digital banking scams. Banks are gradually implementing the extra procedures, which will be fully implemented by 31 October 2022, after consultation with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

“The fight against scams requires vigilance across the ecosystem. This further set of measures will strengthen customers’ ability to protect themselves against digital banking scams,” said Ho Hern Shin, Deputy Managing Director, Financial Supervision, MAS.

She noted that MAS will continue to collaborate with other government agencies and financial institutions to improve the financial system’s resilience to fraud.

The additional measures are 1) Requires additional customer confirmations to process significant changes to customer accounts and other high-risk transactions identified through fraud surveillance; 2) Set the default transaction limit for online funds transfers to S$5,000 or lower; 3) Provide an emergency self-service “kill switch” for customers to suspend their accounts quickly if they suspect their bank accounts have been compromised; 4) Facilitates rapid account freezing and fund recovery operations by co-locating bank staff at the SPF Anti-Scam Centre, and 5) Enhances fraud surveillance systems to take into account a broader range of scam scenarios.

Bank customers are actively encouraged to use mobile banking apps rather than online browsers to reduce the chance of visiting fraudulent websites. Banks will continue to improve the functionality of their banking applications and help clients make the shift to using them more frequently.

Scams, whether digital or not, necessitate the effort and cooperation of all parties involved, including banks, ecosystem participants, and customers. The importance of public knowledge and maintaining vigilance cannot be overstated.

Furthermore, an ABS Standing Committee on Fraud, comprised of the seven domestic systemically important banks, will carry on the work of the Anti-Scam Taskforce formed in 2020 to ensure continued investment in the industry’s anti-scam programmes.

The Committee will report directly to the ABS Council and will be in charge of the industry’s anti-scam activities, as well as putting in place robust safeguards to protect customers and boost public confidence in digital banking’s security. The Committee will formalize the industry’s ongoing anti-scam activity into five core workstreams: customer education, authentication, fraud surveillance, customer handling and recovery, and equitable loss sharing.

As the scam landscape evolves, the Committee will work with member institutions to regularly assess and improve anti-scam policies for efficacy and relevance.

Customers play an important part in the fight against frauds, and they must stay up to date on online banking hygiene practices as scam tactics change. Some are 1) Keeping apprised of scam advisories and alerts put out by SPF, National Crime Prevention Council, MAS and banks; 2) Referring to official sources, such as the MAS Financial Institution Directory and cards (e.g. ATM or credit cards) issued by banks, for hotline numbers and website addresses to communicate with banks; 3) Moving towards greater use of bank apps for banking needs and receiving notifications by turning on in-app notifications on their devices; and 4) Never divulging internet banking credentials or passwords to anyone.

While additional anti-scam measures used by banks may increase the time it takes for clients to complete some online banking transactions, this is important in order to ensure a higher level of security and safety for their assets.

The continued fight against frauds necessitates an ecosystem strategy, with all stakeholders having a role in remaining aware and on the lookout for scams. A draft framework aimed at establishing equitable loss sharing between customers and financial institutions is nearing completion and will be released for public comment as part of the amended E-Payments User Protection Guidelines. Other essential players in the ecosystem’s roles will also be discussed throughout the consultation.

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