By Regina Benneh
Change in all aspect of life is very necessary to bring sanity into the future, but not everyone embraces it (change).
Those who accept change often do so if they think the change would favour their cause of life.
It is change in monetary transactions that Mobile Money (MoMo) transfer services launched in 2009 by MTN Ghana has come to revolutionize in the money transfer industry. This revolution in financial payment for commercial purposes and remittances between relatives and friends both locally and internationally has brought a great change in the lives of many.
By the MoMo service, customers can visit any nearest authorized MTN merchant for money transactions, either to send or receive, since all things being equal it is fast, easily accessible, boost business activities and increases security of a person’s money too.
But, despite the seemingly guaranteed and more flexible option of transferring money, a number of MoMo customers of MTN Ghana interviewed by this writer complained about the activities of fraudsters who have been calling to use all forms of fraudulent ways to be able to siphon money from their MoMo account.
The clarion call of customers therefore is that, MTN Ghana must be alert and adopt measures that can be stringent enough to curtail this negative, business-collapsing state of affairs to avoid loss of its cherished customers.
MoMo fraud preventive measures:
To guarantee the safety of its MoMo customers, MTN Ghana has advised customers never to disclose their MoMo pin codes or allow other people to perform transactions on their behalf.
The company has again urged customers not to pick any call that seek to discuss their wallets or get them to respond to promotions they have not participated in. Furthermore customers who make deposits on their wallets must always check if the amount had been credited in the wallet before departure from the merchant’s point or shop.
In spite of these measures MoMo fraud is still prevalent in the country and that has compelled MTN Ghana to introduce further measures since April this year, thus indicating its commitment to prevent the incidence of MoMo fraud to make the MoMo service safer and more reliable for customers.
Acceptable ID cards for withdrawing money
The company has introduced a new corporate policy requirement which is a proof of identity before a customer can withdraw cash. Valid types of identity cards acceptable include a driver’s license, voters’ identity card, passport, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Ghana cards.
It is important to state that though all the above cards can be used for withdrawal, the SSNIT and NHIS Card remain ineligible for SIM registration.
As part of the process a MoMo agent must enter a customer’s identity card number before a transaction can be completed to prevent an incidence of fraud.
Even though some customers have applauded MTN Ghana for the security procedures introduced, the question is, would the new requirement secure their wallets? A section of customers particularly travellers feel there must have been some exemptions.
A number of travellers this writer interviewed at transport terminals in Sunyani, contended it could happen that a traveller had forgotten his/her identity card while on a journey. The question is in such an emergency situation, what does one do to withdraw money from one’s wallet?
Customers’ threats and withdrawal of monies
Customers who disagreed with the requirement of proof of identity, have threatened that despite being customers to the company for a long period, they had no option than to withdraw their monies and deposit it with other mobile network company.
This was because they could not continue to bear the inconveniences and frustrations of being denied withdrawal of their own monies in critical situations on the basis of not having an identity card.
Some customers interviewed by this writer alleged some staff of the telecommunication company (MTN Ghana) were connected to the MoMo fraud and therefore argued that the effort to clamp down on fraudsters needed to be tackled from within, if not the demand for an identity card might not contribute effectively to the fight against the crime.
Madam Adwoa Serwaa, a resident of Sunyani and a customer recounted her experience one fateful day, saying she had left her purse containing money for shopping at home, not knowing her identity card was also in the purse.
Madam Serwaa realised the identity card was in the purse at the point of the MoMo agent and was consequently refused cash withdrawal from her wallet.
“I therefore vowed that if the system does not change, I will cash out all my money and deposit it with other telecommunication network, which does not demand for identity card in MoMo transactions”.
The most annoying part, according to her, was when the MoMo agent told her to transfer her money from her phone to the phone of someone who had an identity card to cash out for her.
“My question now is: was the MoMo agent aware that the process he asked me to follow meant I was going to be charged twice on the money,” she quizzed.
This is because transferring one’s money to someone’s phone would attract a charge and cashing out again also attracts another charge, Mad Serwaa added.
“I actually left that MoMo cash point very angry and highly disappointed, but luckily I met a friend who lent me some money to be able to complete my programme for the day in town,” she said.
MTN Ghana’s expectation
The move is expected to reduce MoMo fraud transactions significantly, Mr. Eli Hini, the first and current Chief Executive Officer of Mobile Money Limited of MTN Ghana said at a media briefing in Accra. He said about 150,000 MoMo agents across the country had been provided with the necessary education and training to effectively implement the system.
According to him, the MoMo agents were supposed to do verification with the customers’ identity card code before cash withdrawal to ensure only wallet owners would be able to make withdrawal and urged all agents and customers to adhere to the directive.
He warned “any agent who accepts an identity card captured on phone or copied on paper will be sanctioned if found out,” and hinted that MTN was currently working with the Bank of Ghana to put together agents’ registry, which would ensure any agent sanctioned by one operator would automatically be blacklisted by the regulator and therefore not qualify to work with any other operators.
Mr. Hini said the new system was expected to prevent illegal practice where some people used MoMo wallets registered in the name of other persons due to irregularities in SIM card registration.
In view of that MTN Ghana has urged customers to regularize the details on their MoMo wallets as a guarantee that the person using the wallet is actually the same person in whose name the SIM and wallet were registered.
It is significant to state that MTN Ghana has suspended some recalcitrant MoMo agents for having flouted the “No Identity Card, No Cash Out” directive by allowing customers to cash out monies without submitting a valid identity card.
In this sense the company has threatened further that the wallets of agents who would breach the directive for a second time would be deactivated for good and be blacklisted at the regulator’s level, implying they would not be able to work as MoMo agents for any other mobile telecommunication company.
This new directive, presenting an ID from the MTN Ghana’s perspective would though guarantee customers security of their wallets, some customers held the view that provision of ID cards before withdrawals might not necessarily prevent MoMo frauds.
According to some of those customers interviewed by this writer, fraudsters could easily use fake ID cards for transactions since ID cards in Ghana were not properly linked to residential addresses and might thus be difficult to trace perpetrators for further investigation.
Others however, agreed with MTN Ghana about the guaranteed security the ID card factor gave to wallet holders, in addition to personal identification numbers to fight fraud. They contended more could be done to improve public’s awareness on how MoMo fraud works and could be eliminated for perpetrators to be prosecuted.
But MTN Ghana felt the need to take that bold step and lead the way with a good policy to sustain the MoMo service delivery to help the business to grow into the future, whilst safeguarding customers’ funds.
Some customers have lauded the company that the use of ID cards to withdraw money from MoMo wallets has come to stay but some customers still do not understand why fraudsters could not be arrested and be prosecuted.
This is where there’s the demand by most customers interviewed by this writer that MTN Ghana must device and implement more effective security measures to check criminal activities in its MoMo service delivery to safeguard the monies of customers.