All is set for the April 2 implementation of a new system where all MTN customers would be required to present a valid ID card at all mobile money agent points before a cash out can be done for them.
MTN Ghana earlier announced that beginning April 2, 2021, all mobile money customers would have to present a valid ID card that matches the name on the mobile money account before they can make a cash out transaction.
At a virtual media forum, CEO of MobileMoney Limited at MTN, Eli Hini said all the over 150,000 mobile money agents across the country have been provided with the necessary education, training and devices to effectively implement the system from tomorrow.
He said the agents have been provided with devices to be able to do picture verification of the customer before the cash out will be done, adding that the idea is to ensure that only the wallet owner can be able to do a cash out.
Eli Hini added that because of the pictorial verification, all valid ID cards that bear the name of the wallet owner, including Passports, Voters ID, Ghana Card, SSNIT Card, NHIS and Drivers License are allowed, irrespective of which ID was used for the wallet registration.
“It does not matter which of the ID the customer used in registering the wallet – provided he has any of the other valid ID cards with his or her picture and name on it and the picture can be verified by the agent, the cash out will be done,” he said.
The MTN MobileMoney CEO however stated that only physical ID cards will be accepted, explaining that if a customer submits the picture of a valid ID on his phone or on paper, it will not be accepted.
“Any agent who accepts an ID captured on phone or copied on paper will be sanctioned if found out,” he said.
He added that sanctions can have far reaching implications for the agent because “we are currently working with Bank of Ghana to put together agents registry, which will ensure that any agent sanctioned by one operator will also be blacklisted by the regulator and will not be able to work for any other operator.”
Transfer to agents
There is a common practice where customers ask people to send money to agents wallets, so the agent could make a cash out for the customer; but Eli Hini said that practice is illegal and flies in the face of the new requirement for ID before cash out.
He therefore urged the agents to quit the practice and insist on the ID requirement for the benefit of customers and for their own interest as agents.
There were questions about whether the requirement will not take away the convenience of mobile money and just cause traffic at the agent points, but Eli Hini said the requirement is designed to work seamlessly and therefore prevent any time wasting at agent points.
He however gave the assurance that once the implementation starts on April 2, MTN will keep monitoring the process and taking feedback so they can improve it where necessary to give customers the best of experience.
According to him, the ID requirement is ultimately intended to assist customers to keep the first golden rule of mobile money, which is not ensure that one’s PIN is not divulged to any third party.
He said it is also to prevent the situation where cash out transactions are done on a customer’s wallet at an agent point and the customer later reports that they did not initiate the transaction and that they had been defrauded with the assistance of an agent.
The new system is also to cure the illegal practice where some people use mobile money wallets registered in the name of other persons due to the irregularities in the SIM registration.
MTN is therefore urging all customers to regularize the details on their mobile money wallets by ensuring that the person using the wallet is actually the same person in whose name the SIM and wallet is registered.
Eli Hini said per Bank of Ghana regulations, no one is allowed to hold and use a bank account registered in another person’s name, and the same applies to mobile money wallets.
“Just as you cannot operate a regular Bank account in another person’s name, same can be said of MoMo wallet. You are not supposed to have a wallet in another person’s name,” he stated.
Eli Hini however noted that if, for health reasons, the owner of a wallet cannot go to the agent and has to do the transaction by proxy, the wallet owner would be required to send a letter from the health facility directly to MTN service center (not agents) and include his ID and that of the appointed proxy.
“If the person cannot use the phone then we require a letter from an authority (e.g. if he/she is on admission, we require a letter from the hospital and contact details of the doctor in charge and this should be sent to our service center ONLY with the person’s ID and the ID of the person presenting the request for cash out for assistance,” he said.
He MTN however, suggested that in case the sick person can use the phone, it would be better for him or her to perform a transfer to a family member or a friend who can assist with the cash out, adding that “this is to prevent the customer from compromising his/her PIN.”
Meanwhile, MTN will consider the possibility of allowing a customer’s next of kin to be able to do cash out on the customer’s behalf.
Eli Hini said the MTN risk management team will weigh the pro and cons of that and see if that can be allowed.