Lawmaker seeks probe on GCash system glitch

A RANKING member of the House of Representatives has sought a probe on the reported unauthorized deductions from the accounts of several users of mobile e-wallet GCash, as the lawmaker was not satisfied with the announcements, advisories and statements coming from the financial institutions involved.

House Deputy Minority Leader Bernadette Herrera filed on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, Resolution 963, mandating officials from GCash and its parent company Mynt—a partnership between Globe Telecom Inc., Ayala Corp. and Ant Financial—to provide a detailed explanation of the causes and effects of the unauthorized deductions.

“GCash said the amounts were restored, but what about the mental anguish and disruption to lives and businesses of the account holders? Apologies are not enough. There should be commensurate restitution for the harm caused that was no fault of any of the account holders,” she said in a press statement.

Herrera said GCash had not disclosed the extent of the authorized deductions in terms of amount and accounts involved.

“First, GCash said there was no hacking in their first public statement. Second, they said cash of the account holders were not missing or stolen, but the reports of the account holders themselves show the exact amount of unauthorized withdrawals and transfers from their accounts, so money left those accounts without their authority,” Herrera said.

“Intrepid reporting by the Philippine Daily Inquirer revealed that there was indeed hacking and up to P37 million in funds were transferred to two bank accounts, one account with EastWest Bank and another account with Asia United Bank. Apparently, what GCash did was reversal of transactions after the unauthorized transactions were made. The GCash funds were already out of the accounts and sent to the EastWest and Asia United accounts,” she added.

GCash conducted a preventive maintenance that caused inconvenience and inaccessibility of the app on Tuesday, May 9. This was in response to complaints from some users regarding unauthorized deductions from their accounts on Monday, May 8.

Gilda Maquilan, GCash’s vice president and head of corporate communications, said Tuesday that their initial investigation did not indicate any system or user account hacking. She also assured users that no funds were lost.

Herrera is also seeking recommendations from regulatory bodies such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Privacy Commission to establish regulations for digital payment platforms, aiming to prevent similar incidents in the future. The lawmaker further suggested that legislative measures should be explored to enhance safeguards and protections for GCash users and other digital payment platform users, specifically against unauthorized deductions and other forms of fraud or abuse.

Herrera is also requesting regular reports from GCash and its parent company, Mynt, to be submitted to Congress regarding the progress of the investigation and the measures taken to address the issue and prevent its recurrence. (EHP, KAL)