GCash rolls out username anonymity in bid to enhance data protection

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 08 2022 02:07 PM

MANILA - Users of GCash will benefit from another layer of data protection as the mobile wallet on Wednesday rolled out a username anonymity feature when sending money amid the proliferation of SMS-text scams.

On Wednesday, users noticed that when sending money via the app's Express Send feature, some letters of the recipients' name were hidden. 

Prior to the security upgrade, the full name of the recipients can be seen. GCash said this was used to verify whether or not the recipient's information is correct. 

“We need to strike a balance between customer experience and strengthening measures to keep user information safe from unscrupulous individuals," GCash Information Security Officer Mark Frogoso said.

“As a result of being the most used e-wallet with the largest user base in the Philippines, it is imperative for us to be ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting the personal information and funds that our customers have entrusted to us," he added.

GCash also earlier said it would move confirmation messages to an in-app inbox from SMS to improve security. It said it had also spent some P1.1 billion to boost its capabilities in detecting and blocking scam messages.

The mobile wallet also assured the public that the data of its 66 million users are secured and that no data breach or leak has occurred. 

"We wish to assure our customers that our systems and infrastructure remain secure and there is no incidence of any data leak or breach. Protecting the personal information of our customers remains a top priority which we believe is integral to our vision of achieving Finance for All,” Frogoso said.

Stakeholders and the authorities are working together to defeat SMS-based scams, which have evolved into more personalized messaging in the past week. 

The National Privacy Commission on Wednesday said the data used by fraudsters to send personalized spam messages were unlikely collected from a data breach or from contact tracing forms. 

The Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigations are expected to release the result of their investigations in the coming weeks. 

Police and telco officials have said SIM card registration could help reduce or eradicate SMS-linked illegal activities. 

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