Sat. Sep 25th, 2021

MANILA – The rise of digital payment transactions in the country resulted in the increase in financial crimes, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) receiving around 100 complaints during the lockdown period alone.

In a virtual briefing Thursday, Melchor Plabasan, director of the BSP’s Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department, said they are still checking their data on these complaints, which are commonly about phishing.

“These are phishing e-mails so there are reported unauthorized transactions arising from them giving their credentials to the fraudsters. That basically is the modus operandi of all these phishing attacks,” he said.

Phishing refers to the fraud wherein an e-mail allegedly from a financial institution is sent to a bank account holder, who was asked to provide his personal or bank account details that the criminals will take advantage of.

With the rise of cyber financial crimes even before the lockdown, Plabasan said the BSP requires banks to strengthen their consumer education campaign to prevent more banking consumers from falling prey to cyber criminals.

“We feel that since this is a social engineering attack, the best way to approach this is to educate consumers, (to) constantly remind them that they need to protect their digital identity,” he said.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, during the same briefing, said growth of digital payment transactions using InstaPay and PESONet rose significantly during the lockdown period or since the second half of last March.

InstaPay is a real-time, low-value payment transfer system introduced in April 2018, while PESONet is an electronic fund transfer (EFT) launched in November 2017 and is intended for business-to-business transactions or business-to-people transactions.

These two are the clearing houses under the central bank’s National Retail Payment System (NRPS), which is targeted to speed-up the electronic payment system in the country.

Diokno said the month-on-month rise of PESONet as of last May was more than 300 percent in volume from around PHP175 billion last April to a little over PHP200 billion the following month.

“This shows the critical role of PESONet as an efficient channel not only for payments between business entities but also for the deployment of social aid,” he said.

The central bank on Thursday said the volume of InstaPay transactions during the enhanced community quarantine in mainland Luzon from March 17 to May 12 rose by 84 percent, while PESONet transactions grew 24 percent.

“This trend indicates a shift from cash-based transactions to digital payments given the limited physical mobility, shortened operating hours of financial institutions, and the public’s avoidance of face-to-face transactions during the ECQ,” it said in a statement. (PNA)

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