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Customers of Singapore's DBS/POSB, UOB and OCBC banks can now 'lock up' money that can't be withdrawn online

Funds that are locked up can be accessed only in-person at DBS/POSB, UOB or OCBC bank branches as a security measure against unauthorised digital transactions.

People use automated teller machines of United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB), DBS, and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) banks in Singapore.
DBS/POSB, UOB and OCBC customers can now digitally lock up their money, from which funds cannot be withdrawn online. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su) (Edgar Su / reuters)

SINGAPORE — Customers of DBS/POSB, UOB, and OCBC bank can now "lock up" their money in bank accounts that will not allow the funds to be digitally transferred out.

The security feature, which will only allow for in-person withdrawals or transfers at bank branches, is set to be launched by UOB and OCBC on Thursday (30 November), while DBS/POSB announced the progressive roll out of its digiVault from Monday (27 November) to 7 December.

The added security measure is designed to prevent scammers from digitally funnelling customers' funds out of a compromised bank account and is part of broader anti-scam efforts by the three banks.

DBS/POSB digiVault and Fixed Deposit Lock

The DBS/POSB digiVault enables customers to store their money digitally in a designated account with the security of a physical vault. Customers will need to visit a DBS/POSB branch personally to verify their identity and make a request in order to access or transfer funds in the digiVault. The closing of a digiVault account will also need to be done at a DBS/POSB branch.

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Applications for a digiVault account requires an existing DBS/POSB account and can be done online via the DBS/POSB digibank. The process to set it up can be done within a minute, according to the bank. Customers will need to locate the digiVault button under the "Apply" section on the "more" tab. Upon approval, customers will receive a push notification in digibank and can start to deposit funds in digiVault.

In addition to the digiVault, DBS/POSB announced that all customers can now choose to lock up their fixed deposits – as an enhanced security feature – from Monday onwards. The bank said that with the introduction of this new option to lock their fixed deposits, customers would reduce the risk of scammers prematurely withdrawing their fixed deposit funds digitally, should there be any unauthorised access to customers' phones and accounts.

Customers can request to lock their fixed deposit accounts online through "digibot", which can be accessed via the bank's digiVault page or digibank online. Upon launching "digibot", customers will need to enter "Fixed Deposit Lock" and will be prompted to authenticate the request.

After successful authentication, customers must select the existing fixed deposit account they wish to lock up and confirm the request. The request will then take around two working days to be processed. Once locked, customers will receive an email notification to inform them that their fixed deposit has been successfully locked.

Like the digiVault, all customers will have to personally visit a DBS/POSB branch and verify their identity in order to unlock their fixed deposits.

UOB LockAway

The UOB LockAway account is the bank's version of the money lock-up security feature that can be opened digitally via the bank's website and UOB TMRW app or at the bank's physical branches starting from 30 November.

Funds deposited in the UOB LockAway Account will be "locked away" from all online transactions, such as digital payments and outbound transfers.

Customers can only access their locked-up funds at the bank's physical branches by presenting their identity cards or passports to branch staff for verification before any transactions can be made. UOB said it is also evaluating ATM withdrawals as an additional mode of cash dispensation and may introduce the feature soon, subject to customer feedback.

There will be no minimum initial deposit or balance requirement on the LockAway account. As an additional safeguard, the bank said that no cheque book will be issued either, and existing cards cannot be linked to it. Account holders will still be able to view their balances and deposit funds into the account digitally.

UOB added that customers' funds held in the UOB LockAway Account will also enjoy interest on their deposits, with rates to be announced in the coming days.

OCBC Money Lock

Similarly, OCBC will roll out the OCBC Money Lock feature starting 30 November and will be available to all new and existing OCBC current and savings accounts without needing to open a separate or new account. The money lock feature can be done through the OCBC Digital app or internet banking site.

With OCBC Money Lock, customers can opt to lock funds in their existing accounts, thus preventing the funds from being digitally transferred or used for unauthorised transactions.

Customers can only unlock their funds in person at OCBC branches or OCBC ATMs located there. The ATM unlock feature will be expanded to all OCBC ATMs island-wide by the end of December 2023.

OCBC added that the locked funds will continue to accrue interest, as the interest calculation will include both locked and unlocked funds in the account. Customers of the bank can choose the amount they wish to lock up, with the minimum being S$10 and the maximum subject to the user's available account balance.

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