SINGAPORE: In a bid to protect Singaporeans from ever-increasing scams, UOB, OCBC, and DBS introduced account lock features late last year.

Since then, around 38,000 accounts have activated the feature, with over $3.2 billion of savings set aside in Money Lock accounts.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also the Minister for Finance and the Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said last week that MAS is working with other major retail banks for the lock feature to be offered as well.

Read also: UOB, OCBC, and DBS introduce account lock features to protect clients from scammers

Mr Wong described the Money Lock feature as letting bank customers put aside some funds in their bank accounts that may not be transferred digitally.

This means that a layer of protection is added for bank customers to mitigate their losses in case other individuals gain unauthorized access to their accounts.

The Director of the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), Ms Ong-Ang Ai Boon, told CNA that interest in the account lock feature has grown.

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“While the money lock approach taken by various banks varies, they share a similar objective of protecting customers from scams by adding a layer of safeguard should their digital access to bank accounts be compromised,” the ABS director said.

Ms Ong-Ang also said, however, that financial institutions should keep abreast of the schemes of scammers, who are constantly evolving in their methods to steal people’s money.

“In addition to the efforts by banks, ABS reiterates the importance of customer vigilance in combating scams and the need for all parties profiting from the digital ecosystem to contribute to the fight against scams,” she added.

The ABS director noted that banks have stepped up their efforts to prevent scams from occurring, as well as to recover funds lost in scams.

She said that more than S$57.6 million had been recovered, while S$18.6 million of potential scam losses was averted from accounts accessed by devices exposed to malware.

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UOB was first on Nov 24 to announce the UOB LockAway Account, followed by OCBC’s Money Lock feature. Both took effect on Nov 30, 2023.

DBS, which has not one but two new features for locking accounts, has digiVault, which took effect on Dec 7, as well as another feature that allows clients to lock up their fixed deposits, rolled out on Nov 27.

UOB says that LockAway prevents unauthorized digital intrusion and protects its clients from rash decisions.

In a UOB LockAway Account, funds are prevented from being used in all online transactions, including digital payments and outbound transfers. /TISG