MOMO; A THREAT OR A TREAT?

BY; CLAUDIA ADUSEI BOATEMAA

The promotion of financial services through technological enhancement has made mobile money very appealing to Ghanaians. Mobile money or “MOMO” as some refer to it, is a cash management service on the mobile phone. It is mainly about facilitating money transfer for the Ghanaian market. The service is also used for reloading airtime units, payment of utility bills, fees, airline tickets, among other transactions through the use of the mobile phone.
Although it has been in the system for a while, it has emerged as one of the most used means of payment in Ghana in recent times Statistics of the Bank of Ghana, as at September 2018, revealed that there were over 31 million mobile money accounts with a little over 12 million mobile money active accounts.
Mobile money has now gone beyond the services of wallet-to-wallet money transfer to include savings, loans, insurance and investments.

SAVINGS
Telecommunication networks in Ghana have partnered with financial institutions to allow customers to instantly open a current/savings account with a bank by simply transferring money from the “MOMO” account to the current/savings account. The customer earns a particular interest rate per annum.
LOANS
Access to loans have been made faster and easier via mobile money. Users can easily access loans using their mobile money accounts. This improve the savings habit amongst Ghanaians of all ages and educational backgrounds. Its convenience has spared most Ghanaians the hustle of providing collateral in order to access loans.
INSURANCE
Prior to the emergence of Mobile money insurance most Ghanaians were skeptical about insurance and its relevance. However, with the introduction of insurance on momo most people have signed on various insurance policies such as Life and health insurance due to their accessibility and convenience.
INVESTMENTS
Mobile money account has evolved for money transfer and payment to investment. It allows users to buy treasury bills from the Government of Ghana and shares in the stock market.
Therefore, from just a simple means of money transfer, mobile money has advanced into an accepted mainstream method for transactions including savings and loans, insurance investment and bulk payments. It is playing a pivotal role in increasing access to financial services in Ghana.

MOMO FRAUD
Just as banking institutions are constantly being challenged with fraud and cyber-attacks so does mobile money. Mobile money has become associated with a number of fraudulent activities leading to loss of money. Most times, fraudsters use strategic ways to defraud customers, agents and service providers. They use compassionate stories to get people to transfer money or gain access to their mobile money account by hacking them. Their stories include:
1. A call that a wrong transaction has been made to the person’s account.
2. A call that you have won a prize and you should send a certain amount of money in order to receive the prize.
3. A call that your child is sick and so you should send an amount of money for the child to be taken to the hospital.
4. A call that your mobile money is being hacked and there’s a need for you to change your mobile money pin.

This act of deviance requires that people become vigilant and conscious of the calls and messages they receive from unknown persons and numbers.
Although it is playing a key role in Ghana’s financial inclusion campaign, fraudsters and other hackers are taking advantage of the platform to dupe the public.
It is therefore incumbent on service providers of mobile money for increase and upgrade security features to ensure the safety of its users.

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