Mobile Money and the Rising Case of Digital Insecurity in Africa

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Sep 2014
Africa, September, 14 2014 - As new technology develops and deploys on the region, developers must also think of including privacy and security safeguards.

Mobile money has very well caught “continental fire” in Africa as internet penetration continues to increase all over the continent; day after day, more Africans sign up to enjoy the wealth of convenience and flexibility that comes with mobile money, ecommerce and everything along that value chain.

M-Pesa, a mobile money service launched in Kenya in 2007, now has more than 56.9 million customers using the service for everyday transactions. Kenya has seen dramatic shifts in its financial services sector as millions race to more virtual forms of banking. However, users of the M-Pesa mobile money service are very present in many other African countries including South Africa, Egypt, Lesotho, Congo, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Besides M-Pesa, there is the MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money trying to penetrate Cameroon, Madagascar, Uganda, Gabon, Ugana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Airtel Money is also looking to fully bolster its presence in Ghana and enter the Nigerian market.

With the apparent and projected success of Mobile Money in Africa, there is enough incentive for fraudsters who target users of this service. A recent report by Kenyan Telecommunications Service Providers indicates that mobile money users have been targeted by cybercriminals in multiple scams. This is facilitated by sending various fake text messages around promos and wining notifications advising the customers to send money to accounts belonging to cybercriminals.

In South Africa, where some 90 percent of internet users access the internet from their mobile phones, there has also been an increase in cybercrime. Reports commissioned by Cyber-security companies Symantec and Kaspersky reveal that South Africa falls within the top ten worst hit countries for cybercrime globally. Additionally, South Africa reportedly had the fourth largest number of malware detections in Africa.

It is now absolutely necessary that African governments and other stakeholders begin to pro-actively think up solutions to a potentially increasing digital threat facing the African continent.

As new technology develops and deploys on the region, developers must also think of including privacy and security safeguards.

Strategies to curb this threat must be informed by hard data collected during this early phase. Going forward, extensive and objective cybercrime studies should be facilitated all across the continent to identify the most vulnerable and prevalent threats, list common targets, observe the frequency of such digital happenings, and compute the impact to the economy on a long-term basis.



Source : Ventures Africa
 

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