OCBC phishing scam: Have “goodwill payouts” been enough to restore bank’s brand?
February 10th, 2022, Samuel Tan

OCBC phishing scam: Have “goodwill payouts” been enough to restore bank’s brand?

Last month, we reported how a number of OCBC brand metrics had taken a hit, following the phishing scam which saw customers lose millions of dollars and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warn of possible regulatory actions. But with affected customers now fully compensated, has public opinion towards the bank bounced back?

In our earlier article, we saw how data from YouGov BrandIndex showed that OCBC’s Buzz scores – which measure whether consumers have heard more positive or negative things about the bank in the past two weeks – began to plunge from the start of January. This was followed by a decline, from mid-January, in consumer impression towards OCBC, as well as the number of consumers who would favourably recommend the bank to friends and colleagues.

Now, latest BrandIndex data shows that even after the bank’s 19 January announcement on extending “goodwill payouts” to cover the total losses of all affected customers, OCBC’s net Impression and Recommend scores had initially continued to decline sharply.

However, following OCBC’s announcement on 30 January that it had completed making payout arrangements to all scam victims – which had swelled from 469 to 750 people, and from $8.5 million to $13.7 million – consumers who would favourably recommend the bank started rising in number.

Consumer impression towards OCBC also briefly improved following the 30 January announcement, but started to decline again at the start of February.

As this coincided with the first few days of the Lunar New Year public holidays, when Singaporean Chinese families meet with their extended members and relatives, it is possible that social chatter around the OCBC phishing scam stories reversed initial gains for the bank. Indeed, this accords with the partial plateau in OCBC’s Buzz scores from 1-3 February, which had been on a significantly sharper upward trajectory at the end of January.

Nonetheless, since Singapore’s financial regulator announced on 4 February that the bank’s payouts were one-off gestures that do not set “general precedent”, OCBC’s Buzz, Impression and Recommend scores have all started on a clear upward trend.

In its announcement, MAS had emphasised that while financial institutions were expected to protect their customers’ accounts through "robust controls", banking customers were also responsible for taking necessary precautions. This includes not disclosing their banking credentials to anyone, not clicking on SMS and email links that claim to be sent by their bank, and transacting only through their bank’s official website or mobile application.

So how soon will OCBC make a full recovery in consumer impression and recommendations?

Will heartwarming news, first reported on 7 February in the national paper, that OCBC staff volunteers had served a Lunar New Year festive meal to 65 underprivileged families in southeast Singapore paid for by the bank aid this? YouGov BrandIndex’s daily tracking of consumer perceptions towards the brand will allow interested parties to see just how much – and how soon.

How did the December 2021 phishing scam initially impact OCBC's brand? Read our earlier article here.

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. OCBC's scores are based on a 2-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.