Commentary: Right intention, wrong approach for OCBC and its new anti-scam measure

On the flip side, there’s also the risk of being too stringent. For instance, in their bid to counter fraudulent activities, some banks employ rigorous transaction verification processes that can sometimes decline legitimate transactions.

Rather than just imposing technological restrictions, perhaps a more holistic approach – combining technology with user education – would be more effective. By fostering a user base that is informed about the dangers of third-party downloads and equipped to discern app permissions, the bank can bolster its defenses.


OCBC’s move underscores a broader, industry-wide debate in which banks are walking the tightrope in an era of relentless digital transformation to maintain trust, especially as financial institutions will be expected to share liabilities in scam cases under an upcoming government framework.

The financial sector has thrived on customer trust. Security measures they implement, while ensuring safety, must not compromise this integral relationship.

It’s a complex interplay of trust, security, and convenience. It’s not just about stopping potential threats but also about ensuring that in doing so, the banks do not alienate their customers.

Banks need to understand that in the age of digitisation, customer expectations are evolving. They desire a mix of security, which protects them, and autonomy, which doesn’t make them feel surveilled or restricted. The challenge here lies in combining the two.

OCBC’s decision, while well-intentioned, highlights the intrinsic challenge digital banks face between ensuring a harmonious user experience and robust security. This measure might come off as overbearing to some, yet it underscores an immutable fact – in the realm of digital banking, both the institution and its users bear the responsibility of safeguarding against cyber threats.

The task of ensuring robust security isn’t solely the bank’s prerogative; users too need to be vigilant and well-informed.

Dr Jonathan Chang is CEO of Fintopia Indonesia – a digital lending fintech unicorn. He is also a lecturer, public policy advisor and an award-winning researcher.