Mobile money transfers have resulted in financial inclusion for the poor and unbanked in developing economies. Mobile handset infiltration in rural settings coupled with diverse use of mobile phones, improvement of Point of Sale devices and other new technologies have had positive impact on mobile transactions. In Ghana, there are three Mobile Money Operators namely MTN, Vodafone and AirtelTigo who partner with banks for an efficient transfer system.
Mobile Money popularly referred to as MoMo, in local parlance, is almost a decade old in Ghana and has become a common means of cash transfers, withdrawals and payments such as utilities, schools, airline tickets, top up credit, among other transactions through the use of a mobile telephone. The process is usually simple, fast and has low transfer charges. Accordingly, one can make transactions at any time with the utilization of technology to transfer money conveniently and efficiently.
According to the Bank of Ghana (BOG) as at September 2018 there were over 31 million mobile money accounts with a little over 12 million active accounts. The same report put registered agents at over 350, 000 with over GH¢190, 000 active agents. Additionally, mobile money transfers were close to GH¢160 million by the end of the third quarter of 2018 compared with GH¢ 109 million during the same period in 2017. BOG also recorded mobile money interoperability between May and September, 2018 at GH¢104.85 million and 1,118,315 in terms of volume.
Mobile money transactions were mainly meant to make transactions within the mobile or online platforms rather than cash payments, which is becoming the norm. This has resulted in reported attacks and even murder of mobile money agents. Additionally, mobile money has come to be associated with a number of fraudulent activities leading to loss of money, stealing of passwords, etc.
Most often, criminals use a lot of strategies to defraud mobile money agents, consumers and financial service providers. These have included compassionate stories to engage and gain attention of patrons — The goal is to get a client to transfer money or gain access to the mobile money account. A summary of issues may include any of the following:
Below are a few safety tips to protect your account and how to avoid being defrauded:
Security and Abuses in System
Mobile money transactions are sometimes undertaken without IDs or with fake IDs. Customers have engaged in mobile money transfers with SIM cards not registered in their names or purchased SIMS already registered making the SIM vulnerable and unsafe for users. Though there is a limit on number of transfers daily, patrons go around it by using different SIMS from agents, friends and relations.
Mobile money has become too cash centered instead of using it for online transactions. There is no limit of cash that customers can put in a mobile money account. Business operation areas of mobile money does not have any security infrastructure like financial institutions. Mobile money is currently not linked to bank accounts as such it has become a haven for criminals.
Mobile money has provided a medium to include all within the financial economy as well as job creation for those who offer various services within the value chain that includes mobile money agents, retailers and financial technology companies. Mobile money transfer has come to stay despite the challenges. Education is necessary to help address these. There must be a way to link mobile money account to bank accounts to augment the financial economy. Finally, it has become imperative to link identity cards for SIM registration to TIN Number or Social Security Number to help trace individuals and reduce the rate of mobile money offenders.
~By Ruby Tetteh