The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) has again called on Congress for the quick passage of the Bank Account and E-Wallet Regulation Act under the proposed House Bill No. 9615 to stem the rapid growth of cyber-related crimes in the banking sector.

“There has been a rise in the number of cybercrimes perpetrated against the banking public, thus there is a need to ensure that criminals are held accountable for what they have done,” according to BAP president, Jose Arnulfo A. Veloso, who is also the CEO and president of Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank.

Veloso said the proposed bill “expands our government’s tools in fighting against cybercriminals by punishing the usage of financial accounts for criminal activities.”

Cyber-related crimes such as money mules and phishing are forms of economic sabotage.

Veloso said BAP and the rest of the banking community are on hand to assist lawmakers in speeding up the passage of HB 9615.

“We welcome opportunities to provide inputs to our legislators as to how we can further strengthen this bill,” he said. “The BAP is willing to work with the necessary stakeholders to ensure the safety of every Filipino who conducts financial transactions online,” he added.

The BAP describes money mules as persons “who electronically receives, acquires, or transfers money, funds, or proceeds derived from phishing or other cybercrime.”

Phishing, on the other hand, is a social engineering scheme to obtain or any attempt to obtain sensitive identifying information by disguising as a trusted entity in an electronic communication for the purpose of illegally accessing a victim’s online account, said the BAP.

“Those who are found guilty of these crimes will be punished with prision mayor (six years and one day to 12 years in prison) or a fine between P200,000 and P500,000. Persons who are found aiding a money mule or attempting to do major offenses under the bill will be punished with prision correccional (six months and one day to six years in prison) or a fine between P100,000 and P200,000,” said the BAP.

The BAP continue to assure the public that banks are investing heavily to protect the personal data of their customers by implementing “rigorous protocols” in investigating cybercrimes to apprehend and penalize cyber criminals.

The banking industry is becoming more technologically-enhanced and digitalized, and using more financial technology or fintech, for strategic efficiencies.

Source: Manila Bulletin (