CUSTOMERS of Security Bank Corp. and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) now have the option to employ online card locking to prevent thieves from gaining access to their accounts.

In separate statements on Monday, the two lenders announced that clients may choose to use a card lock and unlock feature online, which would allow them to limit the access and use of their physical debit and credit cards.

The banks introduced the new feature in order to boost cybersecurity, which has been an emerging threat to global banking systems amid rising cases of card fraud and hacking.

Once a card is locked, it will not be allowed to make withdrawals from any automated teller machine nor can it be used for online and point-of-sale transactions.

“Customers can lock their cards for as long as they prefer and just unlock it when needed. They can also utilize the Lock feature whenever they temporarily misplace their card or when they are traveling to prevent unauthorized charges,” Security Bank first vice-president and fraud management division head John Joseph C. Jocson was quoted as saying yesterday.

An e-mail and text message alert will also be sent every time a card is locked and unlocked through Security Bank Online, and will soon be available through the bank’s mobile app.

For its part, RCBC also said that the new feature stands as a fresh layer of security versus cyber threats, especially with online payments and e-commerce consistently on the rise. Access to the lock-unlock feature is included in RCBC’s Online Banking account, which currently serves around 300,000 users nationwide.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. has tagged rising cybersecurity threats as a concern for the central bank, as he acknowledged that greater use of digital platforms meant greater efficiency and wider financial inclusion.

Earlier this year, the BSP required banks to adopt a multi-factor authentication system, which was a way to tighten standards on client verification. Eyed in full swing by October, the new rule requires banks to confirm a client’s identity using at least two different methods before a person can proceed in making high-value fund transfers or payments.

Among the most common e-commerce transactions are bills payment, online shopping, purchase of airline tickets, and hotel bookings, according to BSP Circular 958 issued in April. Financial firms must adopt “more stringent security controls” for such deals to deter fraudsters from stealing money.

Shares in Security Bank closed at P245 apiece on Monday, down P2.40 or 0.97% from the previous session’s finish.

Meanwhile, RCBC shares finished at P 50.20 each, dropping 35 centavos or 0.69%.