The Business Times

MAS taskforce to make clear the liability held by consumers, financial firms in e-payment scams

Published Thu, Jul 8, 2021 · 12:50 PM

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working with banks and key payment players to provide "fair, clear and consistent approaches" for liability apportionment for fraudulent e-payment transactions, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan.

A taskforce has been set up for this review, through which the financial industry can put in place steps to better protect consumers against scams and fraudulent transactions, said Mr Tan at the Association of Banks In Singapore (ABS) financial crime seminar on Thursday.

It also comes as ABS is working with banks in the Republic to improve the One-Time Password (OTP) verification processes through the use of digital tokens.

An OTP - a unique string of six digits - is typically triggered as a verification for online purchases. There have been cases where customers claim that fraudulent purchases were made on their cards, with OTPs sent by SMSes intercepted by fraudsters.

Another way to verify transactions is to use digital tokens sitting in users' banking apps. These trigger an in-app notification that must be approved before a genuine card transaction made by a customer of the bank from which the card is issued is allowed to go through.

Such digital tokens are meant to be backed by more protection, such as encryption. Because they sit in the banking app, the verification process is further protected by a phone lock, a PIN, as well as biometric identification.


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Mr Tan noted that Singapore continues to see a significant rise in the number of scams reported.

In 2020, more than 15,000 cases of scams, involving around S$200 million of losses, were reported to the police. This is a 65 per cent increase from 2019. He noted that scammers often use various ruses to induce victims to share their OTPs.

Mr Tan, who chairs the Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams, said ABS has worked with the banks to include warning messages in their OTP SMSes.

Last year, frontline banking staff intercepted 76 scam cases involving about S$3 million in total.

There is also a collaboration among the Police Anti-Scam Centre, more than 30 financial institutions, online marketplaces and telecommunication service providers, through which these partners can swiftly intercept illicit proceeds from scams, and to facilitate fund recovery to victims, said Mr Tan. Last year, more than S$57 million in scam proceeds were recovered.


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