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The banking sector is still seen as ‘mostly safe.’

Financial transaction crimes increased during the pandemic as more people turned to digital platforms due to travel limitations, but affected accounts make up less than 1% of the total, according to a monetary executive.

The banking system is “usually safe,” according to Melchor Plabasan, director of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Technology Risk and Innovation Supervision Department.

“So far, we’ve checked the amount of accounts that have been affected not only with this incident but also with some of the phishing instances, and it’s still way, way below 1% of the overall market size,” he said in a video briefing on Thursday.

“The chances of you becoming a victim of this crime are quite remote,” Plabasan stated.

“However, we are working with the business to guarantee that the losses are reimbursed and that the industry continues to update its security system,” he added.

Approximately 700 BDO Unibank accounts were hacked recently, with some funds being transferred to various Union Bank of the Philippines (Unionbank) accounts.

Plabasan stated that they have identified six people of interest in the case and have informed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

According to him, part of the proceeds from the illegal operations were also transferred to other banks.

“We’re also broadening the scope of our inquiry because monitoring shows that other institutions, including Unionbank, may have been utilized to funnel stolen funds,” says the statement. As a result, we’d like to get to the bottom of that specific issue or worry,” he added.

The BSP has been pushing for greater adoption of digital payments, with the goal of reaching 50% of all transactions by 2023.

When asked if there are any plans to change the procedures for using InstaPay and PESONet to prevent them from being used for fraudulent transactions, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the central bank is working closely with other supervisory institutions to develop industry-wide solutions to combat cyber threats.

The central bank regulates two electronic fund transfer services: InstaPay and PESONet.

According to Diokno, the BSP is also moving quickly on reforms such as the adoption of a fraud management system and the sharing of information for fraud investigation.

“We will continue to work with the industry and the Philippine Payments Management Incorporation to look into further remedies, such as temporary holding of funds and an uniform approach to fraud resolutions,” he said.

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