UOB, OCBC and DBS customers can soon ‘lock up’ savings for in-person withdrawal only, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

UOB, OCBC and DBS customers can soon ‘lock up’ savings for in-person withdrawal only

UOB, OCBC and DBS Bank customers can lock up funds in their bank accounts to block the money from any digital transaction starting this week.

The feature, which will allow money locked up to be withdrawn only in person, will be launched by UOB and OCBC on Nov 30. DBS Bank will progressively roll out its take on the security measure to its customers between Nov 27 and Dec 7.

The “money lock” feature is designed to fend against fraudsters siphoning money out of a hacked account.

The measure is being introduced amid a rise in scam cases in 2023, including malware scams that enable fraudsters to take control of victims’ devices and empty their bank accounts.

UOB and OCBC said in separate statements that users can lock funds via the banks’ digital app or website and the money held in the account will continue to accrue interest.

UOB’s take on the feature, called LockAway Account, will not require a minimum initial deposit of balance. For security, existing cards cannot be linked to the account.

Users can still check their balances and deposit funds into the locked account digitally, it said.

“The enhanced account security better protects customers against digital threats, and protects them from reacting impulsively to scammer demands,” said UOB.

Customers cannot withdraw locked money from ATMs, but this service may be offered in the future depending on customer feedback, UOB added.

OCBC customers will be able to retrieve locked savings from a bank ATM using their debit or credit card and personal identification number (PIN).

The bank advised customers to lock only excess funds that they will not use in the foreseeable future. They need to have at least $10 in their accounts to use the security feature.

“OCBC Money Lock is a much-needed safeguard that hampers scammers from quickly gaining access and transferring out an unwitting customer’s monies,” said Mr Beaver Chua, head of anti-fraud at OCBC’s group financial crime compliance department.

“At the same time, customers must continue to exercise vigilance, as they are the first line of defence against all forms of scams.”

As for DBS Bank, its take on the feature – dubbed digiVault – can be set up within a minute in the digibank app under the “more” tab. DBS customers will be able to use the digiVault feature by Dec 7. There is no minimum balance requirement.

The bank will also allow customers to lock up their fixed deposit accounts from Nov 27. Once locked, it will prevent any premature digital fund transactions or changes to the fund’s maturity date to be made online.

DBS said: “This reduces the risk of scammers prematurely withdrawing fixed deposit funds digitally should they gain unauthorised access to customers’ phones and accounts.”

The concept of locking up money was studied by the banking industry as an answer to rising scam cases and was discussed in Parliament earlier in 2023.

The measure was first reported by The Straits Times in February, in an interview with UOB head of group risk management Frankie Phua, who said that the bank was exploring a way for customers to set aside savings that cannot be withdrawn digitally.

Such scams continue to plague Singapore in the first half of 2023, with 22,339 cases reported between January and June, involving more than $330 million.

At least 750 victims lost more than $10 million after falling prey to malware scams during that time.

The “money lock” feature adds to a slew of security tool rolled out by banks here. These include a program to block Android users from accessing the banks’ digital services on their phones if it detects apps that ask for risky settings such as remote control screen sharing. Such screen sharing allows scammers to control a device externally.