An anti-cybercrime activist and Chief Executive Officer of Northwind Technologies, Mr Jonathan Kojo, has downplayed MTN Ghana’s new directive requiring it’s customers to produce a valid national ID card before they can withdraw money from their MoMo wallets. MTN Ghana, effective April 2, 2021, directed it’s mobile money operators/vendors to demand an ID card from their customers before they withdraw money their wallets.
The measure according to MTN Ghana, is to enable the telecommunications giant, address the rising cybercrime related issues that its mobile money users face daily. The measure is seen by many industry experts as a step in addressing the rising issue of cyber fraud pepertuated on their platform. Some worried customers of the telecommunications giant had accused MTN Ghana of doing little to make mobile money safe.
It is in response to such concerns that triggered MTN to take such measures. While some customers have hailed the new measure, others say it is time wasting and frustrating.
But Jonathan Kojo, a Computer Scientist and an Anti-Cybercrime activist, however, believes the move by MTN Ghana will pose much risk to customers.
“Today, the fastest growing telecom and fintect company MTN came up with measures to address cybercrime.
Unfortunately, this measure of carrying an identity card on you before you can withdraw your money poses more threat and its even more dangerous in my opinion. I see this leading to the perpetuation of crimes, even organized ones that would be heavier in magnitude and more costly to the people.
In an economy that's becoming increasingly digital, an individuals identity card has become more important than never before and should be as private as possible.
Now don't argue about banks, schools etc, that also require ID cards, these are institutions that are more formal in their dealings” he said in an exclusive interview with this portal.
He said, MTN has employed so many people including those with no formal training, no background checks among others, stressing that, handing your ID Card to random MTN vendors several times a week is just the leak in the ship.
“Let's consider these few points.
1.To register a simcard you need an ID Card.
2. To change your momo pin you need an ID card
3. Even if you want to replace your simcard, you need an ID Card.
4. To even reset your Facebook account, you need an ID Card.
Now if an ID Card is this powerful and yet we are required to expose it to so many random people who could include the very scammers we trying to avoid, then we are in for trouble. A simple screenshot of your card is what's required to carry out evil against you” he noted.
He further noted, the policy is by no means a good and safe one, adding that What the company MTN has succeeded in doing is just shifting responsibility to users of their platform.
Mr Kojo therefore suggested the following as solution to instead.
1. Recall all simcards and make sure they are properly registered with valid ID cards and accurate biometric data taken.
2. Improve simcard distribution channels through highly trained personnel and partner with institutions like banks to distribute simcards.
3. Improve their technology by using biometric devices and facial recognition applications instead of requesting customers to produce ID cards every time they want to do a transaction.
4. Improve digital payments by taking off the double charges. This would reduce significantly the withdrawal of physical cash thereby improving safety.
He has therefore, advised the public to pay special attention to the vendors when they hands their ID cards to them to confirm their details.
“For now, I would encourage everyone withdrawing money to pay special attention to the vendor and take back their card immediately the vendor confirms it”, he advised.
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