A call to protect our digital banking community
4 mins read

A call to protect our digital banking community


Author: Vijay Manoharan, CEO of CIMB Bank Philippines

In my dual role as the head of a digital-only commercial bank and as a banking customer myself, I take great pride in playing my part in leading CIMB in reshaping local banking: from before Opening doors to financial services for underprivileged Filipinos. Yet, amid our progress, I have growing concern over something that threatens the essence of our digital banking landscape – a concern that compels us to act urgently and compassionately.

In recent times, the digital sector has seen a significant increase in e-commerce activity, with Filipinos embracing the convenience of online transactions. However, there lies a disturbing trend within this digital development: the illegal buying and selling of digital bank accounts in online marketplaces.

It is disappointing to see these accounts being bought and sold like commodities. Such transactions not only indicate a thriving underground economy but also pose a significant threat to our financial ecosystem.

Let's be frank: the people purchasing these accounts often have nefarious intentions. They use the same infrastructure designed to empower Filipinos, turning it into a tool for cyber crimes ranging from simple scams to complex money laundering schemes.

Consider the practice of money laundering, a deceptive strategy used to launder illicit funds through unsuspecting individuals. By facilitating these activities through the sale of digital accounts, criminals obscure the path of funds, avoiding detection and accountability.

It is important to understand that people involved in the selling of digital accounts are not mere spectators – they are assisting criminal syndicates, helping their operations flourish unchecked. The consequences are serious: those caught in such illegal transactions face prison terms and heavy fines.

The more than 1,200 percent increase in suspicious transactions compared to last year, according to the Money Mules Typology Brief released by the AMLC in December 2022, underscores the urgency of our collective action. The emergence and rapid adoption of digital banking during the pandemic has provided both convenience and vulnerability, increasing the need for increased vigilance.

The more than 1,200 percent increase in suspicious transactions compared to last year underlines the urgency of our collective action. The emergence and rapid adoption of digital banking during the pandemic has provided both convenience and vulnerability, increasing the need for increased vigilance.

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In response, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has issued a strong warning against these illegal practices, signaling a united front against financial crimes.

At CIMB Bank Philippines, we stand in solidarity with these efforts. We strongly condemn the sale of bank accounts for illegal purposes and are committed to tackling financial crimes.

Our dedication to anti-money laundering protocols, fraud controls and vigilant monitoring is unwavering. We leave no stone unturned in protecting the security of our customers' accounts and maintaining the integrity of our banking system.

However, tackling fraud and scams requires a collective effort. This is a shared responsibility that extends beyond financial institutions and regulatory bodies – it includes every member of our community, including you.

To our valued customers, digital bank users and fellow Filipinos, I urge you: Remain vigilant. Protect your accounts the same way you protect the things you love most. Let us together strengthen the security of our digital fortress and maintain the principles of financial integrity. Gaining a few hundred pesos is not worth it If the result is running on the bad side of the lawAnd possibly a lifetime of regrets – not only for yourself but for your loved ones.

Let us be united in our commitment to protect the integrity of our digital banking landscape. As custodians of financial security, CIMB Bank Philippines remains steadfast in our resolve to combat financial crimes and protect the interests of our customers. But we need your help to make it happen.

Let us move forward together with unwavering vigilance and determination, ensuring that the promise of digital banking remains untouched by the shadow of illicit activities. Let's build a future where financial well-being is promoted and trust is preserved for generations to come.

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CIMB CEO Vijay Manoharan – Best Banking CEO

Vijay Manoharan is the CEO of CIMB Bank Philippines – a digital-only commercial bank that provides innovative mobile-first digital banking solutions and services. Named by Forbes as the country's No. 1 bank in the 2023 World's Best Banks ranking, CIMB PH is also part of the CIMB Group, one of ASEAN's leading banks present in more than 16 global markets.

Read more about the Bank's products and services www.cimbbank.com.ph

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