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MAS Advocates Collaborative Approach to Cyber Resilience

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In a recent parliamentary session, Members of Parliament raised concerns about efforts to protect bank customers from scams, echoing sentiments expressed by citizens. In response, MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) and other government agencies are intensifying efforts to combat scams through collaborative initiatives with the banking industry.

MOS Sun Xueling of the Ministry of Home Affairs will provide further details on these efforts, including the implementation of anti-malware controls by banks and the Shared Responsibility Framework (SRF) to hold financial institutions and telecommunications companies directly accountable to consumers.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have introduced a consultation paper outlining a Shared Responsibility Framework (SRF) aimed at addressing phishing scams. This framework assigns duties to financial institutions (FIs) and telecommunication companies (Telcos) to mitigate the risk of scams and requires payouts to affected victims in cases of breach.

Building upon previous initiatives by the Payments Council, the SRF expands its scope to include both FIs and Telcos, recognising their pivotal roles in safeguarding against the outflow of funds due to scams. Particularly concerning are digitally-enabled scams resulting in unauthorised transactions, which undermine confidence in digital banking systems.

The proposed framework outlines specific duties for FIs and Telcos, such as sending transaction notifications and implementing scam filters. Breaches of these duties trigger a “waterfall approach,” holding FIs and Telcos accountable for losses. FIs, as custodians of consumers’ money, bear primary responsibility, followed by Telcos.

While the SRF focuses on phishing scams, it does not cover malware-enabled scams due to their evolving nature. However, the government remains committed to combating malware scams through industry collaboration and public education efforts.

The consultation paper seeks feedback on various aspects of the framework, emphasising the importance of collaboration and vigilance in upholding safety in e-payments. MAS and IMDA aim to uplift anti-scam measures across the financial system while reinforcing consumer responsibility to safeguard against scams.

The joint endeavour to combat scams highlights the importance of shared responsibility, emphasising the effectiveness of initiatives such as the SMS Sender ID Registry in decreasing scam occurrences. The inclusion of Telcos in the SRF is welcomed as a means to strengthen the ecosystem against scams.

The collective efforts have yielded positive results, with reported phishing cases decreasing by 16% and losses decreasing by 14% in 2023 compared to the previous year. This decline is attributed to enhanced security measures introduced by major retail banks, such as anti-malware features on banking apps.

However, MAS acknowledges that more work is needed to strengthen anti-scam controls. Plans include encouraging the adoption of Money Lock, enhancing its functionality, improving fraud surveillance capabilities, and enhancing authentication measures during account logins and payment transactions. While these measures may introduce additional friction to the banking process, they are essential for protecting consumers’ interests and reducing scam-related losses in the long term.

It’s crucial to note that the majority of scams now involve authorised transactions, where victims willingly transfer funds to scammers under social engineering and deception. Addressing these scams requires a vigilant public that stays informed about evolving scam typologies and banking controls. MAS and banks will continue supporting national public education efforts, including the “Add, Check, and Tell” anti-scam campaign.

While progress has been made, MAS remains committed to further strengthening initiatives to safeguard bank customers’ interests. The collaborative efforts between government agencies, financial institutions, and the public are essential for effectively combating scams and protecting consumers in an increasingly digital landscape.


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