Cebu City considers penalizing fintech companies for glitches

CEBU City is eyeing to penalize financial technology (fintech) firms involved in digital payment platforms for technical glitches.

The City Council, through a resolution filed by City Councilor Rey Gealon, has requested recommendations from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on the feasibility of imposing penalties on online payment service providers in the event of technical glitches.

The resolution was filed by Gealon and approved during the regular session on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

This action came in response to reports and complaints from users of GCash, a popular e-wallet platform, regarding unauthorized deductions from their accounts last May 8.

Some accounts experienced small withdrawals that were transferred to two recipient bank accounts. The amount transferred from affected accounts reached millions of pesos.

GCash issued a statement on the same day the incident occurred, saying it extended its preventive maintenance to investigate and determined that no hacking occurred.

Gealon said the measure is one way of holding the companies accountable.

Though the users’ money was returned the following day and the company made assurances that the funds were still intact, Gealon said the incident had still resulted to a breach in personal digital security of the users.

“The breach in personal digital security must still be answered,” said Gealon in the resolution.

To gather more information and guidance, the council has authorized the City Secretariat Office to provide a copy of the resolution to the BSP. Furthermore,

House Deputy Minority Leader Bernadette Herrera previously filed Resolution 963 on May 10, calling for detailed explanations from GCash and its parent company, Mynt, about the unauthorized deductions.

Herrera also sought recommendations from regulatory bodies, including the BSP, the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Privacy Commission, to establish regulations for digital payment platforms and prevent similar incidents in the future.

She further suggested exploring legislative measures to enhance safeguards and protections for GCash and other digital payment platform users against unauthorized deductions, fraud and abuse.

In the meantime, the BSP is actively investigating the phishing incident and security breach that occurred on GCash. (JJL)