SEA digital bankers prefer OTP – survey

Published February 8, 2022, 11:44 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla


More than three in five or 67 percent, users of digital banking and e-wallet apps in Southeast Asia (SEA) prefer one-time-passwords (OTPs) through text (SMS) for every transaction, according to a study.

A Kasperksy study “Mapping a secure path for the future of digital payments in Asia Pacific (APAC)” revealed that E-payment adopters in the Philippines and the rest of SEA know it’s vital to safeguard their financial data amidst the rapid rise of digital payment use in the region.

Adopters have a specific wishlist of security features they want their banks and mobile wallet providers to implement.

Majority of the respondents also want to see the implementation of two-factor authentication or 2FA (57 percent) as well as biometric security features like facial or fingerprint recognition (56 percent).

Interestingly, the implementation of OTPs is the top priority for consumers in most SEA countries and it’s highest in the Philippines, with 75 percent of users opting for OTP.

In Indonesia, it’s 67 percent; Malaysia, 66 percent; Thailand, 63 percent and Vietnam, 74 percent.

However, in Singapore, two-factor authentication is the most urgent concern of 65 percent of users.

Digital payment customers also welcome the use of machine learning in combatting social engineering attacks.

Almost half (40 percent) noted that companies should start preventing frauds/scams automatically based on spending behavior and/or transfer history.

Over a quarter (28 percent) also said Tokenization – the process of protecting sensitive data by replacing it with an algorithmically generated number called a token – can also augment the security of mobile banking and e-payment applications in the region.

“SEA’s sheer market size in terms of digital payment offers a lengthy runway for expansion,”noted Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

“In a competitive sector, payment companies should be assessed not just on their innovations, but also on their security posture. We can draw from our findings that customers are increasingly becoming aware of the value of technology to protect their finances online,” he elaborated.

In general, these security features are useful preventive measures that can enhance cybersecurity standards in digital payments. However, these options should not be viewed in an isolated manner, but considered as part of a holistic cybersecurity framework, the GM pointed out.

Using two-factor authentication, for example, has its limitations, particularly when it comes to SMS-based authentication.

Password-bearing SMS messages can be intercepted by a Trojan lying inside the smartphone, or by a defect in the SS7 protocol used to transmit the messages, making SMS-based 2FA unreliable at times.

In such cases, it would be advisable to employ self-contained authenticator apps, with SMS being used only as a last resort to limit a company’s vulnerability to data breaches, he advised.

With the complicated nature of securing apps and finances online, it is not surprising that over three in five (65 percent) of the respondents said that banks and mobile wallet companies should provide more incentives to maintain the security decorum – such as changing passwords regularly.

Another 60 percent noted that providers should educate users more about the threats online.

When it comes to choosing a mobile e-wallet provider, security remains a priority for digital payment users in SEA.

More than half (58 percent) said they will use an e-wallet that includes extra security features like fingerprint and 2FA while more than a third (37 percent) said they will use banking apps or mobile wallets from providers that have not have been engaged in any previous data breach or cybersecurity attack.

A number of respondents also noted that mobile e-wallet has to be independent – can be used directly by a bank or through a third party (42 percent) or a closed one – linked to specific merchants, where users can only use the funds to make payments for transactions initiated with the specific merchant (35 percent).

Another set of considerations in choosing a digital wallet company includes apps that should offer promos, cashback, lower transfer fees (49 percent); provide anonymity – users don’t need to reveal credit card details to too many merchants (35 percent); be bankless – bank account details not needed (25 percent); and be locally made (16 percent).

“Our study showed how customers are increasingly holding digital payment providers accountable to the security of their finances online so we suggest companies to determine the cybersecurity gaps in each of the stages of their payment process and fit in the right IT measures in a calibrated manner,” Yeo underscored.

The study was conducted by research agency YouGov in 10 key territories in APAC: Philippines, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia,, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Survey responses were gathered in July 2021 with a total of 1,618 respondents surveyed across the 10 countries.

The respondents ranged from 18-65 years of age, all of which are working professionals who are digital payment users.