Daily Dash: Singapore Leverages 'Robotic' Technology To Prevent $69m In Losses To Scams

January 18, 2024
Singapore’s police force has announced that it prevented nearly $70m in potential scam losses in Q4 of last year, while the Maltese financial watchdog has released a new consultation on the implementation of the Digital Operational Resilience Act.

Singapore Leverages 'Robotic' Technology To Prevent $69m In Losses To Scams

The Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has announced that it prevented more than $69m in potential losses to scams in late 2023.

In collaboration with four banks — DBS, UOB, OCBC and Standard Chartered — the ASC leveraged robotic process automation (RPA) technology to identify job, investment and other scam victims.

Between September and December 2023, the SPF and the banks sent out more than 48,000 SMSs to more than 15,000 scam victims who are customers of the banks.

In a statement, the SPF said this resulted in the successful disruption of more than 5,300 ongoing scams.

“RPA technology has enabled the police to automate information sharing, information processing, and the mass distribution of SMS alerts,” it said.

“Many of these victims only realised that they had fallen prey to scams after receiving SMS alerts from the police, advising them to immediately cease further monetary transfers.”

Maltese Regulator Launches DORA Consultation

The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has launched a public consultation on the national implementation of the EU’s Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), ahead of it becoming fully applicable by January 17, 2025. 

The consultation, which closes on February 16, also covers the transposition of the EU directive that aligns several directives within the financial services sector to the requirements of the DORA Regulation, the DORA Amending Directive. 

“In an effort to raise the level of preparedness around DORA, the Authority has been actively engaging with the local financial services industry through several outreach initiatives in the past year, including a series of podcasts and the publication of circulars,” said Alan Decelis, MFSA’s head of supervisory ICT risk and cybersecurity. 

“This consultation is yet another touchpoint which will facilitate the sharing of feedback by all entities concerned, ensuring the successful implementation of the DORA Regulation on a national level.”

Google Signs MoU To Promote Global Expansion Of India's UPI

Google India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the international arm of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to expand access to UPI overseas.

In a statement, the NPCI said the MoU has three key objectives. First, it seeks to broaden the use of UPI payments for Indians when travelling abroad.

Second, the MoU intends to assist in establishing UPI-like digital payment systems in other countries.

Lastly, it seeks to improve the process of remittances between countries by using the UPI infrastructure.

“The outlined objectives will help accelerate UPI's global acceptance, providing foreign merchants access to Indian customers who will no longer have to rely only on foreign currency and/or credit or forex cards,” said the NPCI.

“They will have the option of using UPI-powered apps from India, including Google Pay.”

Iberpay Reports Strong Instant Payments Growth For Spain

Iberpay, operator of Spain’s Sistema Nacional de Compensación Electrónica (SNCE), has reported strong growth in the volume and value of instant payments transacted on the network.

In 2023, 1,011m instant transfers were processed in Spain, which is 22.8 percent more than in 2022. Overall, this came to a total of €119.4bn, 21.6 percent more than in 2022. 

Iberpay has also revealed that the migration rate from standard credit transfers to instant transfers was 54 percent, compared with an average of 15 percent across the rest of the EU. 

In total in 2023, the SNCE hit a record of more than 3bn payments, which is 7.8 percent more than in 2022. With a value of nearly €2.7trn, this was 7.2 percent more than in 2022.

India-Singapore Instant Payments Linkage Branches Out To Major UPI Apps

The National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) has announced that users of India’s largest instant payments apps can now receive funds transfers directly from remitters in Singapore.

As the operator of India’s Universal Payments Interface (UPI), last week the NPCI confirmed that PhonePe, Paytm and its own app, BHIM, can now be used to receive instant payments from Singapore.

PhonePe is the largest UPI app in India by number of monthly transactions, followed by Paytm and Google Pay respectively.

Last February, when a bilateral linkage between UPI and Singapore’s PayNow went live, it was limited to commercial bank apps only, with the exception of Singapore’s Liquid Group.

“The increasing adoption of UPI in cross-border transactions not only amplifies financial inclusion and convenience but also plays a pivotal role in fostering the overall growth of India's dynamic digital payment ecosystem,” said the NPCI.

Awkward Situation For Maltese Authorities As Majority Of 2023 AML Fines Unpaid

Three out of five fines issued by the Maltese Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) in 2023 remain unpaid.

The regulator issued a total of €3.36m in financial penalties against 144 companies or individuals last year. 

According to finance minister Clyde Caruana, only €1.4m has so far been paid.

However, some of the unpaid fines could be due to court appeals, a government minister said.

Singapore Man Charged With Providing Unlicensed Payments Services

A 47-year-old man has been charged in Singapore on suspicion of providing payment services without a licence.

He was also charged for possessing money — approximately S$500,000 ($375,000) — believed to be the proceeds of criminal conduct.

In a statement, the Singapore Police Force said the man had numerous bank accounts in his name to which he received “dubious” funds transfers, which he then converted into cryptocurrency.

Under the Payment Services Act 2019, operating a payment service business in Singapore without a licence carries a fine of up to S$125,000 (US$93,400), imprisonment of up to three years or both.

In March 2023, the man is also believed to have acted as an agent to collect S$50,000 (US$37,500) in cash from the victim of a scam.

SEC Charges US Fintech CEO With Insider Trading Violations

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Shanchun Huang with manipulative trading in the stock of Future FinTech Group Inc., whose services include cross-border payments.

Huang is said to have used an offshore account in Hong Kong to buy Future FinTech stock shortly before he became CEO in 2020. He is also charged with failing to disclose beneficial ownership of the stock and previous stock transactions.

In late 2019 or early 2020, according to the SEC’s complaint, Huang was approached by Future FinTech’s founder and former CEO about the possibility of Huang becoming CEO.

In January 2020, when Huang allegedly used an account in Hong Kong to place trades in Future FinTech stock, the company was at risk of being delisted from the Nasdaq due to its share price falling below the minimum bid price of $1.

Huang allegedly bought more than 530,000 shares over two months and repeatedly traded large volumes, with his trades constituting a high percentage of the daily volume of Future FinTech stock transactions.

“Timely disclosure of insider stock transactions is a fundamental component of the federal securities laws that ensures the fair operation of our securities markets,” said Sheldon Pollock, associate regional director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.

“CEOs should assume that the use of an offshore account will not prevent the staff of the SEC from identifying manipulative trading.”

UK Is Most Advanced Digital Economy In Europe, Says New Research

New research from a key big technology trade association has found that the UK is the most advanced digital economy in Europe and a prime destination for tech companies of all sizes.

The research from the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) found that the UK’s tech sector plays an “outsized role” in supporting the UK economy, producing £113bn in gross value per year.

The CCIA, whose members include Apple, Google, Amazon and Meta, also found that the UK’s tech sector supports more than 2.6m jobs and pays an average salary of £45,700 per year — 37 percent more than the UK average.

“The data is clear: a healthy UK tech industry means a healthy UK economy,” said Trevor Wagener, chief economist and research centre director at CCIA.

“These findings reveal that the UK’s robust tech sector doesn’t just benefit the companies at the top — its success contributes massively to the country’s workers, businesses of all sizes and the wider economy across the UK.

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