NEW DELHI: Mindful of the heightened risk of cyber fraud on account of growth in digital transactions post-demonetisation, the Centre is contemplating a standard protocol for e-wallet companies on how to prevent and fight online financial fraud. The finance ministry has also been asked to look at a possible Digital Payments Act to regulate the entire gamut of e-payments.
The measures to tighten the anti-cyber fraud regime were reviewed at a high-level meeting chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh here on Tuesday. The meeting analysed the trends relating to online financial transactions, which as per RBI data grew from 255 crore in 2013-14 to 998 crore in 2016-17 and are expected to rise further to 2,500 crore in 2017-18, and discussed how to handle the higher risk of cyber fraud in view of fast-expanding digital payment regime.
According to a senior home ministry officer, while the average daily online financial transactions in November 2016, when demonetisation was announced, were 22.4 million, this figure rose 23% in May 2017. As for cyber frauds relating to e-payments, banks and agencies reported 16,468 cases to RBI in 2015 -16, up from 13,083 in 2014-15. NCRB data on the other hand put the number of online financial frauds at 12,317 in 2016.
“While the government is enthused by the growth in digital payments and transactions, it acknowledges the higher risk of financial fraud it comes with. The challenges include password theft through fraudulent phone calls, e-wallet frauds, email spoofing and Phishing attacks, etc. We seek to prepare our law enforcement agencies to deal with the same,” a home ministry official told TOI.
A key decision taken at Tuesday’s meeting, attended by top officers of the home ministry, ministry of electronics and information technology (MeITY), departments of financial services, department of telecom, RBI and intelligence agencies, was setting up of a inter-ministerial committee comprising representatives of aforesaid ministries/departments to assess all aspects of cyber and phone-related fraud and make recommendations on how to make the digital payments regime more secure. The committee will also have two members from banks and e-wallet companies.
Other proposals discussed included creation of a central nodal agency that will work in coordination with state-level nodal officers to prevent and investigate cyber fraud; enhancement of capabilities to fight online financial crimes through creation of trained manpower comprising 27,500 police/forensic officers and 13,000 judicial officers; and creation of a national-level cyber forensics laboratory.