Need for clearer, stronger advisory on bank security

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued an advisory to banks in the wake of last Thursday's bank heist at a Standard Chartered Bank branch ("MAS urges banks to review security"; Sunday).

Even though the MAS said that it expects banks to assess whether their security measures need to be enhanced, including having closed-circuit TV cameras, alarm systems, panic buttons and security personnel, it also made clear that the guidelines are not prescriptive.

Banks, it seems, are free to take whatever security approach they wish.

An industry source has said that bank staff are instructed to hand over money peacefully during a robbery so as not to endanger the safety of staff and customers.

If this is the stance taken, would having a security guard in the bank have made any real impact at all?

As investigations into the robbery are still ongoing, perhaps in this instance the MAS should have waited for these to be completed and then issue a joint statement with the Singapore Police Force.

Such an advisory must be bold enough to touch on the bank's current security measures, thus making it more impactful and useful.

What happened to StanChart should be a lesson not only for itself, but also for other banks here. I hope that a clearer, more prescriptive advisory is issued.

M. Lukshumayeh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Need for clearer, stronger advisory on bank security'. Print Edition | Subscribe