The biggest mobile money operator in Ghana, MobileMoney Limited (MTN MoMo) says it is currently working on implementing a self-service option for customer wrong transfer reversals.
Self-service reversal empowers customers to quickly reverse any wrong mobile money transfers they make. It could either be a transfer to the wrong mobile wallet, or the transfer of a bigger amount than the sender intended.
The smaller telco-based mobile money operators, Vodafone and AirtelTigo have each enabled self-reversal on their *110# short codes, to enable customers do a quick reversal by themselves to prevent the situation where the recipient of such wrong transfer cashes out the money.
But MTN, which is by far the biggest mobile money operator, whose customers are the most targeted by fraudsters, has a rather cumbersome and time consuming process for reversing wrong transfers.
When an MTN customer does a wrong transfer, he/she would have no choice than to report the transaction to MTN customer service line – 100 – for the recipient’s wallet to be blocked temporarily. Then the receiver will be engaged to do the reversal him/herself, or MTN would do the reversal from their end after gaining his/her consent.
There have been several cases where the recipient may have cashed out all or part of the money or refuses to give their consent for money to be transferred from their wallets. When that happens, MTN stops the process and directs the victim to report the matter to the police, making the process even more complex.
In response to a query from Techfocus24, the Acting CEO of MTN Mobile Money Limited, Shaibu Haruna said they are working on granting self reversal but “a lot of care must be taken considering the quantum of transactions on our platform and other associated risks. Further developments are expected, and updates will be given at the right time.”
This comes at the time when the Bank of Ghana’s report on fraud in the financial sector has indicated that mobile money fraud alone grew by 117% from GHS12 million in 2021 to GHS26 million in 2022, with most the cases being wrong transfers and fake cash reversals.
Cash reversal in the situation where fraudsters send fake credit notification to the victims phone and then calls the victims and pleads for them to reverse the wrongly sent money. Without checking their wallets to confirm if indeed it is credits, some victims send money to fraudsters only to find out later that they never received any money in the first place.
The Bank of Ghana has asked all mobile money operators and payment services providers to intensify their public education and security measures to protect customers from fraudsters.
In that regard, Shaibu Haruna said MTN MobileMoney Limited has deployed its US$2.5 million artificial intelligence platform to predict the social engineering tactics of fraudsters and ward them off or caution customers in real-time before they fall victim.
“The platform has been secured and is currently deployed in Ghana and other operating countries across the MTN Group,” he stated.
He assured customers that as a multinational platform player, MTN sources the best-in-class solutions globally in line with its sourcing processes and that is what it has done in the case of the AI solution provider.
Techfocus24 learnt that in spite of he deployment of the AI platform at MTN, fraudsters still manage to get round it by tweaking elements in their communications to outwit the robots at MTN. But the company said it is constantly educating the robots to figure out the social engineering tricks of the fraudsters and caution customers.
Merchant wallet interoperability
Meanwhile, recently, MTN MoMo announced a partnership with Vodafone for a unified merchant wallet, which allows mobile money merchants to transfer money from any of the two merchant wallets to the other.
This is interoperability at the merchant level. So if a Vodafone Cash customer visits a merchant who does not have a Vodafone Cash merchant wallet, the merchant can still transact from his/her MTN merchant wallet into the customer’s wallet.
Shaibu Haruna said MTN is very excited about the partnership with Vodafone, adding that “we have reached out to all mobile money operators and are currently working with some of them on the necessary technical configurations to enable connection to our network of merchants. It is an exciting time for the market, and we are poised to enable this evolution.”
He also noted that MTN’s Mobile Money Limited remains an open platform player allowing various players within the ecosystem to integrate in extending services to its cherished customers, adding that they welcome any licensed entity to connect effortlessly and terminate traffic on its platform.
This is in keeping with the company’s group-wide Ambition 2025 strategy, which positions MTN as a platform player driving the entire ecosystem along the path of growth across the entire African continent.
Driving down service charges
Currently, within the mobile money ecosystem, at least two wallets, Vodafone Cash, and GhanaPay allow free transfers to all wallets in an effort to make the use of mobile money affordable, particularly in the face of the obnoxious 1% electronic transfer levy (e-levy) slapped on users.
Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), operators of the GhanaPay wallet, have for instance said it intends to help drive MoMo service fees further down with its free transfer model, because banks have the benefit of the mobile money float to invest and make profit.
GAB is looking at a model where it can give other MoMo operators better interest on the float, so that the MoMo can comfortably reduce service fees for customers.
Shaibu Haruna said, whereas MML is “not unaware” of this position by the Ghana Association of Bankers, “we are open to discuss any sustainable commercial proposition that enables the ecosystem to flourish and deepen access to affordable financial services.”
He said MML acknowledges that its its role in the ecosystem has gone beyond providing financial inclusion to becoming an enabler of the economies in which they operate through convenient delivery of financial and digital solutions to customers – individuals and businesses.
“In fulfilment of our ambition, we shall continue to reach out to all actors in the ecosystem. We are excited about the journey ahead and look forward to deepening our engagements with all stakeholders,” he said.
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