…an essential feature for financial inclusion
As Ghana moves further into the e-payment and digital finance ecosystem, financial institutions are cautioned to invest more into addressing issues of consumer risks associated with the deployment of electronic payment solutions.
Analysis by e-Crime Bureau, based on security audit and forensic investigations conducted has identified that the country is at a high risk of losing its financial inclusion potential due to the existing awareness gap regarding cyber-threats associated with the emerging electronic payment services.
When dealing with online banking and other services, it is critical that users are aware of existing threats coming from computer fraudsters and criminals.
Consumers are most vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as unauthorized access to business data, password compromises, skimming of payments and unauthorized transfer of funds, excessive charges, and leakage of confidential data, among others.
Computer fraudsters use different techniques and methods such as computer hacking, phishing, identity theft, denial of services, and social engineering, among others, to steal the financial data of end users.
It is therefore important that online banking customers must be aware about these techniques and methods used by computer fraudsters.
Moreover, in many instances, consumers are unaware of the actual charges and fees associated with their payments, nor do they know the exact amount and frequency of their benefits, leaving them vulnerable to instances of unfair treatment and fraud.
This situation poses danger to customers as cyber criminals have taken advantage of existing gaps to make away with cash by simply infiltrating digital devices of customers with malware or other malicious applications.
In an interview with the Business Operations Manager at e-Crime Bureau, Mr Philip Danquah Debrah on the nature of these developments, he emphasized the need for extra caution on the emerging risks with regards to consumer user practices especially when subscribing to e-payment products and services.
In reality, he said the lack of awareness of the cyber-threats and the absence of effective security controls on end user devices to forestall cyber-attacks makes it very easy for fraudulent transfers to be done. This often goes unnoticed over a long period of time.
Debrah explains that, “in as much as financial institutions are tightening up their system securities to avoid infiltration by malicious actors; same cannot be said on the part of the customers.”
The e-Crime Bureau’s assessment of user behaviour has shown that more than 65 percent of consumers are not aware of the relationship between the potential vulnerabilities of digital devices they use for daily transactions and cyber fraud incidents that are recorded on a daily basis.
“When it comes to cyber security, customers have little or no knowledge about how fraudulent transactions can be initiated remotely from the customer’s end through their devices,” Debrah added.
In Ghana, an industry assessment by e-Crime Bureau’s cyber intelligence team has revealed less than 10 percent of 100 consumers use anti-virus on their mobile devices.
Hence, in dealing with this, there is the need for an urgent call for financial institutions and providers of electronic payment services to educate their customers during the on-boarding process about the threats in relation to the product and how they can protect themselves from such threats.
In May this year, the central bank announced that it will soon unveil the much-awaited Cyber Security Guidelines and Regulations to guide banks in their fight against cybercrime and electronic money fraud.
With over 71 FinTechs providing front and back-end services to banks and other financial houses in the digital space of Ghana, the Central Bank has also reviewed the existing Electronic Money Issuers Guidelines which was issued in 2015, and the Payment Systems Act that was passed in 2003.
By Joshua W. Amlanu