Banks told to strengthen cybersecurity measures
THE GROWING popularity of electronic-money transactions in the country highlights the urgency for banks to focus on cybersecurity as a significant part of their day-to-day operations, the financial industry’s top regulator said.
Cash may still be king in the Philippines, with over 99 percent of all retail transactions still settled with physical currency. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said, however, electronic money has grown significantly.
BSP data at the end of last year—the latest available measure—showed there were over 22 million e-money accounts in the Philippines, equivalent to about one-fifth of the population.
“We have seen the volume and the value of transactions using e-money and e-banking channels grow steadily over the years,” Tetangco said. “We have also seen the adoption of technology by BSP-supervised financial institutions … in offering innovative products and in the delivery of fast and efficient service at affordable prices.”
On the demand side, customers have also become more discerning. Electronic services are now part of the basic features clients expect from banks.
Tetangco said the BSP expects the industry to be always on guard and proactive in managing cybersecurity risks, to collaborate and share information with concerned stakeholders, and to make cybersecurity paramount in the top management’s agenda.
Cybersecurity risks were real and threatened to “undermine public’s trust and confidence in the financial system,” Tetangco said.
The Philippines has not been spared from “cybercrimes.” Considered the social media capital of the world, the Philippines is on the radar screen of cyber criminals who try cyber attacks of varying complexities, Tetangco said. “Nevertheless, industry cooperation has enabled us to stop and capture cybercriminals,” he said.
Tetangco said, for instance, authorities have arrested foreign nationals associated with cyber syndicates involved in ATM skimming, credit card fraud, and phishing incidents.
In response to this evolving and growing cyber-threat landscape, the BSP has been taking measures to preserve public trust and confidence in the financial system.
Since the initial stages of electronic banking in the Philippines, the BSP has put in place relevant regulatory framework and a robust and dynamic supervisory program to guide and oversee supervised institutions’ technology implementation. In 2013, the BSP issued Circular No. 808 that provides a framework on information technology risk management.
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