Checks by TechGh24 on the implementation of MTN’s “No ID, No Mobile Money Cash Out” policy indicate the process is going as seamless and smoothly as the company promised.
The policy was implemented on Good Friday, April 2, 2020 as a measure to curb mobile money fraud, particularly cash out by fraudsters from the wallets of MTN customers.
It is also to ensure customers do cash out personally, and are able to keep the first golden rule of mobile money, which is to never divulge their mobile money PIN to a third party.
At a virtual media forum, a day before implementation, there were concerns about whether the policy will not make cash out cumbersome and cause long queues at the mobile money merchant point, akin to the long queues in banking halls.
But the CEO of MTN MobileMoney Limited, Eli Hini gave a firm assurance that systems have been put in place at the backend to ensure a “seamless” and “smooth” implementation so that the ID requirement will not cause any time wasting at all.
It has been four days since the implementation and a number of mobile money agents visited by TechGH24 for cash out proved the system is indeed seamless and smooth.
The team first visited a number of agent points at Adenta and the procedure took just a few seconds extra for every first time an ID is presented, but subsequent cash out transactions using the same ID went through without any delay at all.
“On my first cash out, I used my drivers’ license and I realized that because that was the first time I used that ID for the purpose, it took about 30 seconds for the vendor to get a reply from the system to allow the cash out, but on my next cash out, using the same ID, the reply came in less than two seconds,” one team member said.
Indeed, all the other team members from TechGH24 reported similar experiences across vendors in Adenta, North Kaneshie, Osu and La.
But the team also noticed that whereas Eli Hini clearly indicated that customers were required to present their physical ID cards to the agents, some customers have captured their ID cards on their phones and they show it to the vendors to copy the ID number, and the agents allow it.
One customer, who gave his name as Joseph, who did a cash out at Teiman, told TechGH24, “I can’t carry my ID along all the time because it can get missing, so I show the picture to the vendor and they do the cash out for me alright.”
He also argued that there have been several instances where people left their ID cards at the bank and the banks display those ID card in the teller booths.
‘”If we don’t take care we are going to have a similar situation with this ID presentation to mobile money agents, and that one will be more dangerous because you will never know who will lay hands on your ID card in that open air condition,” Joseph said.
But Eli Hini had earlier cautioned that allowing ID captured on phone exposes the customer to the danger of fraudsters capturing their IDs and presenting same to agents for cash out.
He warned vendors to desist from allowing ID captured on phone for cash out, saying that the practice will attractive severe sanctions if discovered.
Transfer to agents
There is also a common practice where customers ask people to send money to mobile money agents’ wallets, so the agent could make a cash out for the customer; but Eli Hini said that practice is also 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.
Eli Hini gave the assurance that once the implementation has started, MTN will keep monitoring the process and taking feedback so they can improve it where necessary to give customers the best of experience.
So far only MTN has implemented the ID requirement for mobile money cash out in an attempt to curb mobile money fraud, which seem to be targeted at MTN customers mostly.
One of the most recent mobile money operators has said that they do not necessarily have a challenge that would require ID before cash out because they did not go through the face of registering SIM cards for people with fake and or unverifiable ID cards.
“The legacy operators may have that challenge but not us,” they told TechGH24.
Meanwhile, the other top mobile money operators, AirtelTigo Money and Vodafone Cash, which are legacy operators, are yet to implement any such policy.
TechGH24 is of the opinion that the other operators would need to implement such a policy to stem cross network transfers for cash out.
As things stand now, if a fraudsters lays hands on the mobile wallet details of an MTN customer, they can always transfer the money into a wallet on either AirtelTigo, Vodafone, Zeepay or G-Money and cash it out without using an ID.
The only way to prevent that is for all the other operators to also require an ID for cash out, so the fraudsters can be traced.
It may also be worth considering for IDs to be required for all other mobile money transactions, so that when a fraudsters lays hands on another person’s wallet details, they would not be able to transact with the wallet without an ID, be it for payments, airtime purchase or cash out.
The MTN “No ID, no cash out” policy should be a test case for a broader implementation across networks and across all mobile money transactions, particularly now that it proving to be seamless.