MTN MoMo fraud is one issue that remains an inconvenience for subscribers to the service, as well as an embarrassment to the telecom giant. For MTN Mobile Money subscribers, having to live in fear of becoming the latest ‘mugu’ (victim of naivety or innocence) on these streets is unpleasant. And for the service provider, it’s bad for business — knowing well that in the minds of the general population, you are very complicit in the fraud which is prevalent on your network.
However, although this has been an issue for years, neither the telecommunications giant nor the relevant state institutions have been able to devise a system to make it easier to arrest the mobile money fraudsters and eventually eliminate the canker. Maybe they have run out of ideas. Perhaps, it could be that they just haven’t explored enough possibilities. So that is what this article would seek to do — propose an idea to be considered.

Also read: Privacy should be your concern in the age of surveillance

Can biometric registration help defeat MTN MoMo fraud?

Over the decades, biometric data has been employed in providing information — most often in identifying perpetrators in relation to police forensic cases. Of course, not all uses of the technology have a criminal link. Biometric data has proven to be a handy resource in making things easier when people need to be tracked.
Ghana, like many other countries has employed the use of biometric data in birth certificate and passport acquisition, as well as in voters and national identification. So far, it has plugged some loopholes which existed in the previous systems; and it is based on this that I’m of the strong belief that biometric registration of SIM cards can effectively bring MTN MoMo fraud to its end.
As it is currently, some SIM card registration has been done in the past with fake and untraceable identification credentials. Some of those numbers are still active in the system and are being used to perpetrate fraudulent activities. For this reason — as some industry insiders admit — it has become difficult for law enforcement and the telecom service providers to properly pursue and prosecute fraud cases of that nature.
Telecom service providers cannot block numbers without justifiable cause, so, the only way out is to bring about a new regulation; you need to undergo a biometric process in order to register your SIM card. With this, the telcos would have to collaborate with the National Communications Authority to get that properly done.
Will there be challenges? Definitely. Challenges and teething problems are to be expected. However, we as consumers should be prepared to go through that inconvenience for our future good.
About 13 years ago, we didn’t register SIM cards in any way. Just buy it off the vendor and you’re good to go. That situation allowed people to just buy SIM cards, do whatever they wanted to do with them, and disappear by simply disposing off the SIM card or chip. Then the regulation came that we should register our numbers. Now you could connect a name to the number, but, a lot of such names were also just fake.
We need biometric registration for SIM cards if were ever going to be able to defeat this MTN MoMo fraud. At least, once the networks can be able to put a face to the number, aspiring fraudsters would be wary of trying to play a fast one on people.
A biometric system would enable the telecom service providers, as well as any state security agencies to be able to pinpoint where exactly a SIM card was registered. That aside, it would be easy to flag names that for whatever reason are on a blacklist. Ghanaians deserve the security of knowing that the systems leave no loopholes for criminals to have a field day. MTN MoMo fraud should not be allowed to become a part of our everyday living.
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