Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited Ian De Souza says Barbados continues to play catch-up as financial institutions try to keep customers safe from electronic fraud.
Although saying the bank was not directly affected by this type of criminal activity, De Souza said he remained concerned that fraudsters were getting craftier and stressed it was therefore important that banks continuously upgraded their systems.
He was speaking to reporters following the bank’s annual New Year celebrations at Villa Rosa, Royal Westmoreland last evening.
“You’re constantly playing catch-up with these guys. Electronic fraud is a business and we saw year before when we had the Bulgarians charged [for money laundering and going equipped with intent to commit theft] . . . it is a concern and it is something that at the Bankers’ Association level and at the bank level you are constantly doing work to keep yourself ahead of the game,” De Souza said.
“What you have to do is constant upgrade to your software and equipment. Every new ATMs that you put in now must have pinhole cameras and certain devices that make it difficult for the skimming people to read the magnetic stripes on these cards.
“So you just try to keep yourself ahead but they are there and they are learning what you are doing and trying to find their own ways of getting around. That is what it is,” he added.
The banking executive said the upgrades were very expensive but worthwhile.
He said Republic Bank was constantly ensuring that it was keeping ahead when it came to protecting customers’ information and as such the bank would be introducing some new measures “very soon”.
He said that credit card fraud, in particular, remained “a major area of concern” and the bank was about to introduce chip cards this year to make it safer for customers.
“Once the chip cards come in and you don’t have to rely on that magnetic strip it makes you safer. So we are bringing that and then we have a new card that we are bringing into the market – the Black Card,” De Souza announced.