How secure is using mobile money in Ghana?

In 2016 when a fabric retailer at Accra Central introduced Mobile Money as a means of receiving payments from her customers at Makola, she received a call from a trickster who claimed he had sent her GH¢800 mistakenly and therefore requested that she send the money back to him.

She reached to her phone to immediately authorize the transfer of the said amount, but realized upon checking her balance that there was no such credit to her account.

She became suspicious and did not authorize the transfer.

That was how she succeeded in not becoming a victim to what has become one of the popular tricks adopted by some cyber crooks in making money off mobile money users.

The fast evolution of payment systems and drive into a cash-lite or cashless society in Ghana is being realized gradually with the growth of Mobile Money systems.

The Mobile Money platform allows businesses to pay for products and services as well as receive payments from others anywhere and at any time.

With mobile money, businesses have a pseudo mobile savings account which gives them easy access to their money.

This has become a very important innovation helping especially rural communities and underserved communities where banking institutions are unavailable or not accessible, to enjoy financial inclusion and ease of access to money.

The Ministry of Communications in 2016 reported that mobile phone subscription in Ghana had soared to over 35 million, suggesting that many people in the population had more than one account.

This, coupled with the increasing financial literacy in the country, projects a boom in Mobile Money usage in Ghana.

Currently, the country’s largest telecom network MTN has a huge share of the mobile money market.

Other players are AirtelTigo and Vodafone who have all joined in to offer their subscribers mobile money services.

Fortunately, the government of Ghana through some of its agencies and the networks have successfully rollout the interoperability system that allows the transfer of cash in between different networks.

In doing this, it has become easier and more convenient to use mobile money.

However, experts are concerned that the development creates an avenue for some unscrupulous persons to attempt exploring possible security lapses within the system to fraudulently withdraw money and tamper with users’ data.

Mobile Money users are responsible for securing their side of the system to prevent ‘intruders’ from performing transactions on their behalf.

Basic security tips for users include;

– Avoiding sharing passwords with third parties

– Avoiding using weak PINs

– Be vigilant not to fall for tricksters

Although most of the mobile payment services/platforms are safe, cyber crooks are constantly trying to outsmart the system and users.

There are even cases of some crooks posing of officials of telecom companies and requesting customers’ PIN to undertake supposed upgrades.

Often, telcos have been prompt to deal with complaints about suspected fraud and its related issues.

For small and medium-scale enterprises in retail, healthcare, hospitality among other sectors that look to taking advantage of the new technology; the current Mobile Money infrastructure should give the confidence of effectively taking charge of business finances in a more secure and convenient way.