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Due to the virality of the COVID – 19  epidemic, the World Health Organisation is encouraging the use of digital payments where possible as a precautionary measure. In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, the use of cash is quickly being viewed as a risk factor due to the handling of banknotes and coins as the virus is known to survive on hard surfaces.
Earlier this week, the Central Bank of Kenya issued a press release (pdf) with emergency measures that aim to facilitate the use of digital payments by reducing the cost of using mobile money. This is in anticipation of the dip in the amount of cash circulation in the economy within the coming weeks.
As mobile and digital banking transactions increase, there is a very high likelihood that online and mobile fraud cases will start to become rife.

How do you securely make Digital Payments?

As a pioneer in building digital payment solutions and one of Africa’s leading fintech companies, Cellulant has connected over 120 banks to mobile and digital banking and over 400 merchants. We have thus seen it all when it comes to payments; the good, the bad, the ugly. Whereas digital payments methods are the most convenient, safe, secure and fast alternatives to handling cash, its important to be aware of possible risk factors. 

I spoke to our Head of Information Security, Stacy Chege, to share some tips on how consumers can ensure the safety of their transactions based on what her team sees and deals with every day. We hope these will help you identify risk factors and avoid them as you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the swipe, tap or click to pay.

A Tingg user reading a transaction notification

The list of Dos

Use a prepaid debit card for all your online transactions

It is always advisable to avoid using your primary bank’s debit card for your online payments. Get a prepaid card either from a bank or a payment provider you only pre-load with amounts for specific purchases. Most banks will issue you one without requiring you to open a bank account with them. In case of any fraud attempt, your checking account (primary bank) is safe from being overdrawn.

2. Use a reputable and trusted digital payment provider

We have put together a glossary of fintech terms on who Digital Payment providers are. You can identify a trusted payments company if they have an  Information Security policy & procedure. This is normally indicated on the company’s website. By using a trusted provider,  you are assured of a high level of protection of your funds and transactions. Providers who are highly experienced have invested in the right systems and teams to prevent things like data breaches as well as to anticipate fraud cases as they emerge.

3. Beware of fraudulent apps

You do this by ensuring that you have downloaded a legitimate mobile banking/ mobile wallet app from your bank or payment provider. How do you do this;

  • Check and verify the listed app vendor in the play store
  • Check how many times it has been downloaded
  • Read the user reviews 
  • Check the application’s list of permissions before downloading the app. For instance, is the app asking to access your camera, phone contacts etc, mark that against what the app’s functionality 

4. Protect your phone with a screen-lock mechanism and use strong password protection for your phone and apps; The best practice is to use an alpha-numeric password that is at least 6 characters. This ensures that in case your phone is stolen, you are still able to keep your account and data safe.

5. Ensure the online Merchant is compliant: How do you do this; Check the website address (URL)  for HTTPs. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that is used to secure communication over a computer network and is widely used on the Internet. If a website does not have HTTPs, it is not secure and any payment information submitted can be viewed easily.
6. Sign up for payment transaction alert messages: This feature is available from your bank for your debit/credit card. It helps you keep a track of all transactions and activities happening on your debit/credit card. In case of any suspicious activity, you get notified immediately. You should then get in touch with your bank to have the card blocked as they investigate. 

7. Ask for a One Time Password (OTP) feature for any of your digital payment methods. This is a security feature for online payment transactions that triggers an OTP to be sent to your mobile phone number via SMS. You must input the OTP in order to complete that online payment transaction. This additional security feature ensures that your debit/credit card can’t be used without your active authorisation for each transaction.

The list of Don’ts

8. Don’t carry out digital/mobile banking using your app via a public Wi-Fi:

Any information passed through public Wi-Fi can be easily accessed by everyone else who has access and the technical knowledge to hack into individual devices. Your login details, PIN/passwords are plain to see and can be intercepted if you’re using your phone to make online purchases or do your digital/mobile banking on public Wi-Fi.  Instead, use your mobile data or install a VPN. 

9. Don’t click on links sent via SMS, emails, WhatsApp or other social networking sites claiming to be from your bank or financial institutions. The most common method hackers use to spread malware is through malicious links, apps and downloads.

10. Do not disclose information such as your digital wallet PIN, card or card’s CVV number, mobile money PIN, Sim card PIN; Banks, mobile operators and payment providers will never ask you these details over the phone.

Cellulant as your virtual Brinks – secure armoured digital payments transport

For a very long time now, Cellulant has existed as the proverbial air for Africa’s digital commerce world; You don’t see us yet you’ve always used us. Just as Brinks has, since 1859 been the world’s choice for safe, secure armoured cash transport, we have built our reputation over the last 16 year’s as Africa’s choice for safe, secure armoured digital payments transport.

The remarkable rise of mobile money in the continent in the last 10 years has forced most financial institutions and businesses to rethink their business models in order to cater to a mobile and connected consumer. The COVID-19 pandemic is fast-tracking this digital transformation for all sectors. With everything going online, so are payments.
To learn more about how we can help you and your business accept, not just mobile money, but all the important digital payments from your local, regional and global customers, contact us today.


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