Saturday, March 2, 2024

E-wallet platforms being used by minors to bet on ‘e-sabong’, senators say

Senators have called on authorities and financial institutions to closely monitor e-wallet providers whose platforms are allegedly being used by minors to place bets on “e-sabong” or online cockfighting.

Photo from Senate shows (from left) senators Tito Sotto, Ronald dela Rosa, and Panfilo Lacson during the hearing

During the hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs last Friday, March 4, in connection with the mysterious disappearances of close to three dozen cockfighting aficionados involved in e-sabong, senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald dela Rosa said underaged bettors are using e-wallets to engage in gambling.

But, Globe Telecoms senior legal counsel Gilbert Escoto insisted that it is impossible for minors to access GCash’s sabong platform, citing the embedded security features placed in the mobile application that supposedly prevents those below 18-years old from playing or just accessing it.

Not satisfied with Escoto’s explanation, Tolentino said the Senate panel might bring in the next hearings some cockfighting aficionados who are below legal age that were able to place bets in e-sabong using the GCash platform.

Dela Rosa, the panel chair, seconded Tolentino’s manifestation that there are really several minors hooked in virtual game fowl betting using either GCash or PayMaya platforms.

Tolentino said he was alarmed by the pronouncement of PayMaya legal counsel Eloisa Sy that the e-wallet service provider only relies on government IDs submitted by their subscribers as proof legal age amid reports that several minors are already hooked and addicted with e-sabong games using their payment platform.

The senator stressed that if e-wallet providers like Paymaya and GCash can’t properly determine if such subscriber is really of legal age or not, their platforms is definitely prone not only to money-laundering but also to terrorism financing affairs.

So kung pwedeng malusutan ng minor, pwede ring malusutan ng mga money launderers saka terrorism financial activities,” Tolentino said.

According to Sy, Paymaya is only using their own “KYC” or ‘know your customer’ procedure in determining whether or not such a user is of legal age, adding that they can’t really determine if the documents submitted by their users for verification are authentic.

Meanwhile, the FinTech Alliance.PH and the eMoney Association of the Philippines said they are gearing up against the possible proliferation of digital vote-buying and vote-selling schemes, as well as unlawful activities, during the campaign period.

Both organizations have launched an advocacy campaign on the responsible use of digital payment platforms in view of the general elections on May 9.

FinTech Alliance.PH and eMoney Association assured the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that members have put in place robust control mechanisms to mitigate abuse of digital fund transfer services.

This includes stringent onboarding processes, such as one-is-to-one account registration and creation, robust electronic Know-Your-Customer, and account verification to track the identity and traceability of digital transactions.

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