MTN deploys AI to fight MoMo fraud

Mobile Money Limited, a subsidiary of MTN, Ghana, has deployed artificial intelligence (AI) to help fight and reduce the increasing incidence of fraud in its electronic money system.

The company said it was investing about US$2.5 million to strengthen the mobile money platform and to build the robotic system that could detect the activities of fraudsters and terminate them to help reduce the spate at which those activities led to customers losing their funds.

The company’s General Manager, Mr Eli Hini, disclosed this yesterday when he took his turn on the GraphicTalks360, a special interview programme aired live on Facebook.

Mr Hini said the deployment of AI, which used robotics to perform tasks traditionally reserved for humans, and the consequent planned investment were some of the initiatives the firm was using to counter the fraud menace.

Graphic Talks360

The discussion was on the theme: ‘How to maximise the potential of mobile money as a payment option’ and was hosted by Mr Charles Benoni Okine, Assistant Editor of the Graphic Business.

It afforded Mr Hini the opportunity to examine the dynamics behind the strong growth in the mobile money business in the country, with MTN as the market leader, its impact on lives, financial inclusion and the march towards a digital economy and how the country could harness the potential fully to benefit people and the country.

Weakest link

Mr Hini said the company was concerned about the increasing rate at which customers were complaining about losing their funds to fraudsters but said such losses could not occur if the customers did not fall prey to the antics of the scammers.

He said although the company had invested heavily in educational materials, including flyers, jingles and videos to sensitise customers and the general public to the activities of fraudsters, the incidence persisted albeit very low.

He blamed it on the inability of customers to detect the scammers and their schemes, explaining that such lack defect represented “the weakest link” in the fight against fraud in the mobile money business.

“Why are we not saying that the mobile money platform has been hacked but we are saying that the customers are being affected?”

“You see, in everything, attackers will go for the weakest link.

“The customers here are the weakest link because they are allowing themselves to be used by not paying attention to the educational videos and the rest,” he said.

He, therefore, called on customers of the network to be cautious of how they engaged with persons purporting to be MTN staff.

Police collaboration

Mr Hini added that the company had also enjoyed tremendous support from the Ghana Police Service which was helping to fight the menace.

He said the collaboration had led to increased swoops upon intelligence, resulting in the arrest of over 40 perpetrators this year alone.

He said the swoops and the arrests had revealed that some people had taken the perpetration of fraud on mobile money users their job which they engaged in throughout the day.

He added that the company had noticed a reduction in the number of reported cases and expressed the hope that the trend would continue as more awareness was being created on how to avoid being scammed.

When asked how much had been lost to the fraud, Mr Hini could not immediately provide the figures, except to say that the amount involved was negligible.

“But that is not the point because any amount lost is still a concern,” he said.

MOMO growth

Meanwhile, mobile money transactions rose by more than 440 per cent in the first half of this year.

Data released by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) showed that the volume of transactions rose from 2.5 million in the first half of 2019 to 13.4 million in the same period this year.

The jump was attributed to the raging novel COVID-19 disease which led to a reduction in physical financial transactions in favour of electronic services.

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