Around a week ago, a group of Chinese citizens were arrested in their attempt to steal $18.9 Million out of ATMs of seven banks of Nepal. This had caused a major disruption in the market and central bank had halted cross banking transactions for a while. Fortunately, they were caught and almost all of the money has been recovered.
According to Laxmi Prapanna Niroula, spokesperson for the Nepal Rastra Bank, the accused hacked the Nepal Electronic Payment Systems (NEPS), an interface that allows the transaction of money deposited in a bank by using cards issued by other member banks.
The main fault at hand as seen by the Central Bank was the Cash Withdrawal Limit from ATM. So, in response to the problem, they’ve reduced the daily cash withdrawal limit to Rs 60,000 from Rs 100,000. Furthermore, customers will only be able to withdraw Rs 20,000 per transaction prior to the Rs 25,000 withdrawal per transaction.
Niroula said the central bank has taken the move as part of risk- management. “As the investigation of the case is still ongoing, we have taken the steps as an assurance to safeguard depositors’ money,” said Niroula.
The central bank has also halted the cross banking transactions at ATM’s for the time being.
The police were able to catch criminals at the right moment and recover the money this time. But This isn’t the first-time hackers have gained access to ATM money. Previously Bulgarians, Moldovan and Russians have attempted in hacking ATM cards. And maybe many more have been successful too. The digital security of central bank is flawed. And if not improved soon, such acts of fraud will continue to happen again and again. The cash withdrawal limit could work for a short while but what will we do when it happens again?
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