Friday, April 23, 2021
Martin Hennecke

Risks increase as digital transactions surge
Three in four Hongkongers used digital financial services in the past year as the Covid-19 pandemic led to a higher adoption of digital financial services. But nearly half encountered online scams and one in eleven suffered financial losses, with citizens being increasingly exposed to the looming threats of online scams with digital advancement, a study by the Investor and Financial Education Council showed. The Digital Financial Services Usage Study data was collected through face-to-face interviews with 512 Hong Kong adults aged 18 to 69 in December 2020. It found 70 percent of them used online banking, followed by online payments (57 percent), and online investing (43 percent) last year. About half of the people surveyed had used digital financial services more often in 2020 than the previous year, particularly for online payments. But amidst the digital and social media surge, about 47 percent experienced online scams. One in eleven, or 9 percent of them, consequently suffered financial losses, with an average of over HK$17,000. Common online scams encountered by the respondents include receiving phishing emails or bogus calls to acquire bank account details (26 percent), online shopping frauds (12 percent), and fraudulent emails requesting money transfers (10 percent), the survey showed. "Online scams and cyber-security threats have become pressing and serious issues with digital advancement and increasing popularity in social media usage," IFEC general manager Dora Li said. The results were released as the IFEC launched Hong Kong Money Month 2021, "aiming to raise public awareness about online scams, and hopefully induce attitudinal and behavioral change, to help people better protect themselves against these scams and threats," Li added. "The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of financial services. While technology has enabled us to manage our personal finances with greater ease and convenience, it underpins the importance of digital financial literacy, and the need to counter the increasing threats from online fraud and cybercrime," said IFEC chairman Lester Huang.

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