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GCash says ‘no hacking occurred’ on customers’ reported deductions

ELECTRONIC payment firm GCash said that it had found no evidence of hacking in relation to the wallet deductions customers experienced on Monday.

“As [said] in our official statement. No hacking occurred and our customers’ funds are intact,” GCash responded in a follow-up inquiry.

In an interview with TeleRadyo, GCash Vice-President for Corporate Communications Gilda Patricia Maquilan confirmed that the company received complaints from its customers yesterday on wallet deductions.

“Naka-receive nga po kami ng mga complaints sa ating mga customers kahapon. At ang ginawa po namin, immediately tinignan namin. Nagconduct kami ng investigation. In fact, until now, we are still coordinating with our partner banks,” Ms. Maquilan said.

(We received complaints about this yesterday. And what we did immediately, we conducted an investigation.)

“In fact, until now, we are still coordinating with our partner banks,” she added.

GCash said in a statement on Tuesday that any deduction from a GCash account will be adjusted before 3 p.m.

“As of today, we have assisted all concerned customers and are able to adjust their accounts to reflect the correct balance,” it said.

Ms. Maquilan said that GCash has coordinated with partner banks East West Banking Corp. (EastWest Bank) and Asia United Bank Corp. (AUB) for the investigation.

The e-wallet company is yet to disclose the results of its investigation but ruled out a system hack. It reminded users to never share their one-time pins (OTP) and mobile banking personal identification numbers (MPIN).

“Actually, we experience what we call ‘account takeover.’ This happens during times when we accidentally share our OTP and MPIN, which gives other people a chance to access our funds,” said Ms. Maquilan.

Meanwhile, public policy think tank Infrawatch PH Convenor Terry L. Ridon said that GCash users must hold the firm accountable for the adjustments in their funds.

“This incident should be a wake-up call to GCash to make their platform more secure, particularly because a vast majority of the public are now dependent on the platform for their day-to-day activities,” said Mr. Ridon.

He said that the e-wallet company should ensure that similar incidents will not happen again, “as a broader system failure may prevent GCash from making a similar commitment in the future.”

Mr. Ridon said that he is confident that GCash will be able to ensure this as it is the market leader in the electronic money issuer segment.

“However, regulators such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the National Privacy Commission should work with GCash to avoid further incidents in the future,” he added.

BANKS COOPERATINGMeanwhile, AUB and EastWest Bank said that they are cooperating with the investigation being undertaken amid the downtime experienced by GCash users Tuesday.

AUB said in a statement that it put the suspected account on hold after the lender was alerted by GCash that the account was involved in a transfer of funds via Instapay from GCash.

“Be assured that we at AUB are extending our utmost cooperation with GCash on the matter and assisting GCash in so far as looking into the said AUB account,”  Legal Services Head and Data Privacy Officer Emma T. Cabochan said.

EastWest Bank likewise said in a statement that it is launching an internal investigation after being made aware of the fund transfers.

On top of this, the Gotianun-led bank said that it is also cooperating with the investigation being conducted by regulators.

“We are working towards the immediate resolution of this matter,” EastWest Bank said.

Meanwhile, GCash said in a statement at 4:00 p.m. after GCash had been operational again that no funds had been lost and assured customers that the e-wallet can be safely used again.

“Our proactive cybersecurity policies are in place to protect our customers as the safety and security of your account is our top priority,” GCash said.

It also reminded users that GCash will never send e-mails or messages with links or call and contact their customers through other messaging platforms.

EastWest Bank’s shares went up by six centavos or 0.84% to close at P7.20 apiece on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, AUB shares closed at P43.50 apiece on Tuesday, up 50 centavos or 1.16% from the previous day’s finish. — Justine Irish D. Tabile with Aaron Michael C. Sy

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