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Scotiabank Jamaica goes on fraud offensive

Credit card fraud declines as cheque fraud rises

Scotiabank Jamaica has gone one up on its anti-fraud detection activities amid the growing incidence of scamming and fraud in the local banking system.

Scotiabank reported higher operating expenses due to investments in anti-fraud measures.

Scotiabank has reported that operating expenses were higher this year than the prior year, due to increased fraud related expenses, including investments in technology such as ATM software, online banking enhancements, security chips for credit cards, network upgrade to support Scotia’s digital strategy as well as business optimisation.

Operating expenses this year amounted to $24.10 billion, an increase of $2.10 billion or 9.54 per cent compared to 2018. These investments, Scotia Group contends are necessary for the future as the financial group continues to focus on improving customer satisfaction.

Speaking with Caribbean Business Report at a recent press conference, Scotiabank President David Noel admitted that fraud related expenses have increased in some areas highlighting the fact that credit card fraud has been an area of concern. He pointed out that Scotiabank has invested a lot in nullifying the incidence of credit card fraud, such as addressing some areas of the distribution process.

President of Scotiabank, David Noel

Credit card and cheque fraud offensive

This, he emphasised has resulted in the incidence of credit card fraud at Scotiabank coming down considerably. Admitting that fraud is a constant feature of the business of banking, Noel said that cheque fraud is on the increase.

“Unfortunately things like cheque fraud have started to increase and so we are seriously working on things which can reduce cheque fraud as well and one of the things we are doing is working with our customers to help them to find safer, easier and cheaper ways to do their banking,” Noel told Caribbean Business Report.

“…we are constantly looking at ways to reduce fraud by not only increasing security around cheques but providing cheaper and more secure alternatives for customers.”

– Scotiabank President, David Noel

He made mention that Scotiabank is encouraging customers to migrate to the use of direct transfers, which is quicker, smoother and safer, rather than use cheques, thus reducing the possibility of cheque fraud. In addition to these benefits, Noel declared that sometimes this process is free noting “this is the way Jamaica is moving so we are constantly looking at ways to reduce fraud by not only increasing security around cheques but providing cheaper and more secure alternatives for customers.”

This he argued is the power of digital, where most transactions are taking place on digital platforms via computers and smart phones, which is not only cheaper but also more secure than traditional methods of banking. The Scotiabank boss was quick to point out that customers have been shifting to the digital platform with branch transaction accounting for a mere 12% compared with online and mobile transactions growing leaps and bound.

Noel concluded that Jamaicans are adapting well to the digital platform of banking.

Scotiabank ramping up ATM network

In the meantime, Scotiabank is ramping up its digital transformation and will be investing heavily in its Automated Teller Machines (ATM) network to meet the growing demands of its customers. Noel advised that the bank has already purchased and installed 50 new ATM machines since the start of the year with “another 50 new machines to be rolled out by year-end.”

“…the data shows that only 13% of transactions are happening in the branch, 38% at ATMs, 28% at Point of Sale (POS) machines and 21% using the online and mobile platforms.”

– Scotiabank President, David Noel

He said the new ATMs are equipped with new and faster software, touch screen interface and other up-to-date features.  These new ATMs, replaces the older ones many of which had a number of customer-service issues.

Pointing out that Scotiabank is becoming more customer focus, Noel highlighted data showing that the bank’s customers are leveraging digital platforms to transact their banking business.  According to the Scotiabank boss, “the data shows that only 13% of transactions are happening in the branch, 38% at ATMs, 28% at Point of Sale (POS) machines and 21% using the online and mobile platforms.” 

Scotiabank has partnered with Digicel to offer free mobile banking.

To this end, Scotiabank will be improving and expanding its digital footprint to meet this growing demand. “Digital is the way to go,” Noel lamented. As part of this digital thrust, Scotiabank has partnered with Digicel in offering its customers free mobile banking, which he said has been going well. 

He added that the digital thrust is also on the security side pointing to new security services such as transaction alert and credit card controls. During the April quarter, Scotiabank’s earnings suffered from higher one-off costs, the bulk of which related to the $1.4 billion so far spent on upgrades to the ATM network as well the refurbishing of its branch and corporate offices, which sit near the waterfront in Kingston.

Noel reported that this performance was in line with its strategy, which is to focus on core activity, invest in infrastructure and then go for growth.

As part of its fraud offense, Scotiabank often update its customers about fraud detection and fraud protection through advisories. One such advisory was about Phishing Scams.”Phishing” is a type of identity theft, where criminals use email to try to bait one into fake websites.

Once there, you are asked to disclose confidential financial and personal information, like passwords, credit card numbers, access codes or Social Insurance Numbers. The most familiar type of phishing scam is an e-mail threatening serious consequences if you do not log in and take action immediately.

Scotiabank had advised customers’ “never respond to emails, open attachments, or click on suspicious links from reputable institutions or unknown senders asking for personal or financial information. Always remember that Scotiabank will never send you unsolicited emails asking for confidential information, such as your password, PIN, Access Code, credit card and account numbers.”

“We will never ask you to validate or restore your account access through email or pop-up windows,” the bank further advised.