POSB has responded to an account-holder’s complaint that the bank did not seek his consent to share his details with the People’s Association (PA), when he was sent a POSB-PAssion ATM card. The PA is a statutory board run by the Government.

In a forum letter published by TODAY on Thursday (4 July), the POSB account-holder Ng Gim Yeow asserted that POSB should have sought his consent to disclose data to the PA. He wrote: “Late last month, POSB sent me a new PAssion POSB debit card. I was glad that the bank did so on its own initiative, as my present automated-teller-machine (ATM) card expires in August.

“But when I got in touch with the bank, I was dismayed to learn that information, such as my employment status, yearly income range and housing type, would be disclosed to the People’s Association (PA). The card is a tie-up between POSB and PA.”

Mr Ng said that he had been using a regular ATM card all this while and should not have assumed that the permissions he gave the bank several years ago continue under the new card. He also asked why POSB did not offer him the range of various cards it offers, so he could make his own informed decision.

Mr Ng added that POSB gave him “conflicting replies” when he asked about exchanging the card for another that does not entail revealing data to the PA. POSB first told him that he could apply for another card online but Mr Ng had to visit a POSB branch since he could not select the option to exchange the card on POSB’s website.

At the crowded branch, Mr Ng decided to request a new card in writing given the long queue of customers ahead of him. POSB, however, responded to him the next day and said that “it could not accede to the request — contradicting an earlier response.” It told Mr Ng to submit his request online.

Calling on the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Personal Data Protection Commission and the PA to look into his data privacy concerns, Mr Ng asserted: “I cannot see how POSB, which bills itself as “neighbours first, bankers second”, lives up to its name when it not only failed to seek my consent to disclose data to a third party, but sent me on a wild goose chase.”

In a response published by TODAY on Monday (8 July), Head of payments and platform for DBS Bank (POSB’s parent bank) Anthony Seow said that POSB-PAssion cardholders give consent for their data to be shared with the PA when they agree to be enrolled in a PAssion card membership.

Stressing that DBS and POSB prioritises the privacy and security of its customers’ personal data and that the bank has safeguards in place to protect personal data along with a policy that it will not disclose customers’ personal data to third parties without their consent, Mr Seow clarified:

“Upon activating the PAssion POSB debit card, customers would have agreed to be enrolled in a PAssion Card membership, and hence, consented to the bank’s sharing relevant information with the People’s Association for the sole purpose of creating this membership.

“This is indicated on the card information slip that our customers receive with any new or replacement card.”

Revealing that the bank is in touch with Mr Ng and has apologised for the inconvenience he experienced with his debit card application, Mr Seow assured that the bank “will review how card information is presented, so that it is clear and intuitively understood.”