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Singapore banks roll out an anti-scam security feature to lock your funds in your accounts

By Ken Wong - on 7 Jan 2024, 11:12am

OCBC rolls out money lock anti-scam security feature to lock your funds in your accounts

Note: This article was first published on 27th November 2023.

Image source: Unsplash.

All three major banks in Singapore have rolled out an anti-scam security feature that allows customers to lock down their funds to prevent any attempt to access or transfer their monies.

The difference lies in each bank’s approach.

DBS

Image source: DBS.

DBS/POSB customers can look out for digiVault which will be progressively rolled out from today onwards. digiVault enables customers to lock up their money digitally in a designated account, from which funds cannot be digitally transferred out. To access funds in digiVault, customers will need to personally visit a DBS/POSB branch to raise a request. Customers will be required to verify their identity before they are able to transfer funds from it.

In addition to digiVault, all customers can choose to lock up their fixed deposits, preventing premature digital funds withdrawals or changes to maturity instructions for enhanced security. This feature, which is rolled out to all customers today, enables them to have peace of mind that their fixed deposits are securely locked up.

From 27 November 2023 to 29 February 2024, the bank will be running a special launch promotion to encourage customers to try out digiVault. Customers who open and deposit money into a digiVault account can earn an additional 1.80% per annum interest on their average daily balance in digiVault during the promotional period, which they will receive as a lump sum cash gift at the end of the promotion. For customers with multiple digiVault accounts, only the first account will be eligible for the additional interest. Following the promotion period, the interest rate drops to the basic account interest rates

Customers with an existing DBS/POSB account can apply for a digiVault account via their digibank app, under the ‘Apply’ section on the “more” tab. Once the application has been approved, customers will receive a push notification in digibank to inform them that their digiVault is ready, after which they can start to deposit funds in it.

To access digiVault funds, customers will need to visit a DBS/POSB branch in person, where they will be required to verify their identity. Once they have successfully verified their identity at the branch, the branch staff will assist them in transferring funds from their digiVault to their existing DBS/POSB account. The closing of a digiVault account will also need to be done at a DBS/POSB branch.

OCBC

Image source OCBC.

From the end of November, all new and existing OCBC current and savings accounts will be able to lock funds in their existing OCBC bank accounts using OCBC Money Lock to prevent any unauthorised transfers.

Once locked the funds in the chosen account will still be included with any unlocked funds for the calculation of interest so customers will not miss out on the bonus interest earned on their account balances for performing everyday banking transactions with accounts like the OCBC 360 Account.

Image source: OCBC.

OCBC urges customers to consider their regular or recurring expenses, near-term needs, plan for emergencies, and only lock excess funds they do not require for use in the foreseeable future.

Once locked, the funds cannot be used for:

  • Local and overseas transfers, even between a customer's own accounts
  • New or existing payment arrangements e.g., GIRO, standing instructions or future-dated transfers
  • Bill or credit card payments
  • Fixed deposit placements or investments
  • Insurance purchases or payments
  • Loan or tax repayments
  • ATM withdrawals or transfers

The locking of funds is done via the OCBC Digital app or Internet Banking. Customers select a deposit account and then decide the amount they wish to lock (in multiples of S$10), with the maximum amount being the total available balance in the bank account. The minimum amount that can be locked is S$10.

Once locked, getting access to the funds isn’t as straightforward. So, scammers can’t gain access to the locked funds, unlocking the funds can’t be done via the Digital app or Internet Banking, but requires the account holder to do so at an OCBC ATMs or bank branch. Authentication at the OCBC ATM will require a physical ATM, debit or credit card, and PIN.

However, do note that there could be some delays in unlocking funds via an OCBC ATM. For now, customers will be able to unlock funds at OCBC ATMs located at OCBC branches which are accessible 24/7, but it won’t be until the end of December 2023 that customers will be able to use all OCBC ATMs island-wide to unlock their funds. They will be able to unlock their funds at any OCBC branch when OCBC Money Lock goes live on 30 November.

Customers residing overseas who wish to unlock funds can do so by submitting a request via the Secured Mailbox in the OCBC Digital app or Internet Banking. A customer service executive will get in touch with the customer within four working days and undertake a stringent authentication process to ensure that the identity of the customer is established before the funds are unlocked.

UOB

Image source: UOB.

UOB also announced the launch of the UOB LockAway Account, a savings account that ringfences customers’ monies from unauthorised digital intrusion and rash decisions.

Funds deposited into this UOB LockAway Account will not be available to access for all online transactions such as digital payments and outbound transfers.

Customers can only access their locked-up funds at the Bank’s branches, by presenting their identity cards or passports to branch staff for verification before any transactions can be made.

From this Thursday, UOB LockAway Accounts can be opened digitally via the Bank’s website and UOB TMRW app, and physically at UOB bank branches. There is no minimum initial deposit or balance requirement. In addition, no chequebook will be issued for the UOB LockAway Account, and existing cards cannot be linked to it.

UOB says that monies held in the UOB LockAway Account will also enjoy interest on their deposits, with rates to be announced in the coming days.

The difference between the approaches

The primary difference between the DBS, OCBC, and UOB approach lies in the fact that the DBS digiVault and UOB LockAway Account are separate bank accounts that require a customer to deposit funds into for its safety, whereas the OCBC Money Lock can be implemented on any of the customers’ existing bank accounts, not requiring any new account creation.

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