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MAS: financial institutions to adopt additional precautions and measures amid increased alert level

With the alert level raised by the government on the coronavirus outbreak, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has urged financial institutions to adopt additional precautions and measures.

On Sunday morning (9 Feb), MAS announced that financial institutions should remain ready to manage any rise in demand for certain financial services like online financial services or cash withdrawal. In addition to this, financial institutions need to also inform customers promptly regarding the availability of operating hours and services.

While executing their business continuity plans, financial institutions should also “continue to maintain effective internal controls across their operations should split team arrangements be implemented,” MAS remarked. Staff morale need to also be supported and monitored.

MAS’ advisory to financial institutions, which was its third advisory since January, was made following the country’s raising the alert level from yellow to orange on last Friday. More infected cases unrelated to China travel or previous infections have also been reported.

The Singapore financial services group DBS spoke to The Straits Times: “During this time, we understand that more customers may prefer to bank with us digitally, and are closely monitoring the situation to ensure we continue to deliver a seamless banking experience.” DBS has implemented additional measures at its branches since Saturday, such as completing the health declaration form and temperature screening, all of which are to safeguard the well-being and health of our customers and staff.

“Apart from that, branch operating hours remain unchanged and it is business as usual,” DBS added.

In the same light, OCBC Bank’s head of group brand Koh Ching Ching told The Straits Times that it is at the ready if there is any need for increased demand for services such as cash withdrawals at its ATMs. “About 3 in 5 of our customers are now digital customers and about 9 in 10 of financial transactions are done on mobile devices. Our online systems are also well-equipped to handle any surge in online banking usage,” Ms Koh remarked.

Similarly, UOB spokesperson told The Straits Times that it will get its workers in the bank’s critical functions to work from split sites, on split shifts and from home to ensure all banking services remain operational and secure.” UOB customers who are ill or prefer to not go to the bank now can opt for mobile, phone and internet banking services. In the meantime, bank staff directly servicing customers will be wearing masks during work.

On Sunday, MAS also told financial institutions to maintain vigilance on cyber security and cyber threat perpetrators who are acting during this critical time through phishing, email scams and ransomware attacks.

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