'Open economy' needs tighter cybersecurity: fintech experts

Lady Vicencio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2023 06:02 PM

MANILA - Financial technology experts expressed confidence that the Philippines is headed toward an open economy, wherein data will be shared among financial institutions, government and businesses. 

Similar to the goal of open finance, wherein personal data such as credit histories are easily shared across financial institutions for the speedy provision of financial services, the open economy concept brings in the government and the private sector. 

In such a setup, individuals would only need to fill out one personal data sheet, and that same data will be accessible to all of the public and private institutions they wish to interact and do business with.

Stakeholders at the Fintech Revolution Summit held in Manilla believe the infrastructure for this open economy is already in place in certain institutions. 

However, they say much work is still needed to ensure that an open economy will be safe from fraudsters and cybercriminals.

UnionBank SVP and Director Fintech Business Group Head Ericka Go said open economy can be achieved in 10 years. 

“The infrastructure is in place so I think there’s room to grow in terms of data privacy. It should be a collaborative thing between the private sector and the government. More phishing and hacking that’s happening. We’ll probably see more than that. The banks are there for support,” Go said. 

With cyber threats getting more sophisticated, RCBC Chief Innovation and Inclusion Officer Lito Villanueva said artificial intelligence can help mitigate these risks.

Villanueva noted that about 344 billion dollars may be lost due to fraud from 2023 to 2027 if these threats will not be prevented. “The future of banking lies in our reception to technological changes and financial inclusions. AI can protect firms from risks and crimes,” Villanueva said. 

Aside from cybersecurity, AI can be used to augment tasks in financial institutions promoting work-life balance among employees.

While efficiency is being prioritized by local regulators and financial institutions according to payment gateway platform Xendit, reliable consumer protection is vital to building trust among clients. 

“Unreliability for a few seconds can cost millions (in losses). What’s important is not only ensuring money can be transferred but also to secure and prevent invasion of privacy,” Xendit Managing Director Yang Yang Zhang said.

The Philippine Army meanwhile said it is also beefing up its cybersecurity arm as it considers cyberspace as its fourth domain of operations.

Lieutenant Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla said the government can only be resilient to attacks by partnering with the private sector to identify threats in cyberspace, especially those that put national security at risk. 

“We can never be that prepared in terms of cybersecurity because the technology is evolving. Even the anti-virus that we have is reactionary.” Padilla said.


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