Scam-proof your digital wallet with these pro tips

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2019 06:30 AM | Updated as of Nov 19 2019 08:13 AM

MANILA -- The shift to digital payments is inevitable, even in economies like the Philippines where cash is king and where financial technology firms move to convince consumer to go cashless.

The "electronification" of cash is inevitable and the Philippines has the like-minded regulator and companies to make that happen, said PayMaya COO Paolo Azzola.

Cheaper data and smartphones could help grow digital ecosystems in the country, GCash chief customer officer Chris Manguera said.

Digital natives are among the first to embrace the cashless future and they shared with ABS-CBN News some tips to ease the pain out of digital payments while keeping their virtual wallets safe.

• BE CAUTIOUS

Myra Mica, a 32-year old video blogger and online English teacher, uses her platform to educate Filipinos about financial apps after her account was used for an authorized transaction worth P1,200.

"I learned to be cautious, to not leave a big amount of money on apps. Nakakatakot na po eh. Pero mahirap po na hindi na sya gamitin completely," Mica said.

(It's scary but it's hard not to use it entirely)

Myra Mica's YouTube page has over 2,800 subscribers. Screengrab

Bills payments, e-load, digital banking, online shopping, investing, and remittances are among the topics on her eponymous YouTube page, with some of her uploads getting at least 50,000 views.

Mica said she was amazed at the scale of cashless payments in China, where people tap to pay for almost anything.

"Since hindi pa ganun ka popular mga apps na to, kaya ko naisip na i-feature sila sa channel ko, to provide information, at para matulungan din sila gamitin ung apps for their convenience," she said.

(Since these apps are not that popular yet, I thought of featuring them on my channel, to provide information and to help those who want to use these apps for their convenience.)

• BE INFORMED

Shiela Melo Quemel, a 25-year-old online seller, said she waited for a month before a bank transfer transaction worth P9,720 was credited to her account.

She admitted that she was partly to blame for the delay since it was done during a system upgrade schedule which was announced ahead of time.

“Lagi lang siguro nila double check mga i-input nila and lagi nila i-check 'yung page ng kung meron bang under maintenance,” Quemel said.

(They should check their inputs, check if the page is under maintenance.)

• TRY SMALL AMOUNTS

Freelance team manager for overseas clients Mai Verungue said mobile wallet users should try out mobile services in smaller amounts first before committing to high value transactions.

“If you cash in from PayPal to GCash do it in small amounts first before transferring the whole amount,” Verungue said.

The 31-year old mother of 3 now uses her mobile wallet for bank transfers of up to P18,000 for car amortization.

Verungue said she was “90 percent confident” in using mobile wallets, but she hoped GCash and PayMaya could offer more layers of security such as OTP (one-time passwords) and biometrics for their services.

• USE A STABLE CONNECTION

Entrepreneur and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) manager Patrick Cabalquinto, who operates a PayMaya Smart Padala center, said a stable internet connection would make transactions more reliable.

"If you are using their service make sure you have a good and stable internet connection," he said.

His household, who receives salaries through PayPal, moves at least P60,000 digitally every month to pay bills, remit, save and even to buy stocks.

After using the service for 3 years, Cabalquinto said he personally experienced the upgrade in the PayMaya technology.

"They started to streamline the process and little by little eliminating sending and receiving issues," the 34-year old said.

Change your password regularly and never share your OTPs, he said.

• VERIFY SHADY PROMOTIONS

Consumers are advised to avoid anything “that doesn’t feel right,” said GCash's Manguera.

“Whenever there’s something in your head telling you na baka risk ito (this might be a risk), just don’t do it because if its not too urgent, I don’t see the rush of doing it at that point. If it's sometimes too good to be true, it’s most likely fraudulent,” he said.

• KEEP PIN/PASSWORDS SECURE

Never share PINs and passwords with anyone. Operators such as GCash said it would never ask for a user's pin.

• PURCHASE LINKED CARDS FROM AUTHORIZED SELLERS

Consumers can avail of the linked PayMaya cards from authorized sellers and to ensure that the card is sealed, untampered and has no scratches, the operator said.

• BEWARE OF EMAIL SCAMS

Avoiding phishing email and questionable promo links will help prevent fraudsters from gaining access to consumers' online accounts, PayMaya said.

Despite a few glitches, vlogger Mica said she would continue using mobile wallets because of "cool" features and convenience.

Financial technology firms should continue to invest in security to give users the "more confidence in using them," Mica said.