South Africa: Criminals Penetrating Into Rapid-Paced Mobile Money Industry

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Mobile Money industry has garnered immense popularity these days and is counted as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the market. Along with being the rapid-paced industry, it has also been linked up with several criminal activities such as human trafficking, global drug trade, money laundering and a couple more.

A new report by Interpol has been published off lately that unearths that the organized crime groups have continuously exploited a mobile money industry worth billion dollars in South Africa. It is possibly a trend that has only been set to increase as the service has been rolled out throughout the continent.

The report of Interpol has been named “Mobile Money And Organized Crime In Africa” that furnishes with an overview of the ways mobile money services are exploited. It has been found out that these services mostly serve the purpose of money laundering, fraud, human trafficking, extortion, people smuggling and as well as illicit wildlife trade and terrorism.

Considering the mobile money industry, the African continent is taken as the world leader and accounts for approximately half of all the registered mobile money accounts across the world. The mobile money plays an outstanding role in the African economies and societies, along with its rapid pace at which its infrastructure has been built. It has authorized the criminals to exploit the weaknesses in the regulation and as well as the identification systems resulting in mobile money enabled crimes.

Insufficiency of Resilient Identity Checks

The Interpol published report also noted that the mobile money itself manifested to be a positive force for economic development and financial inclusion in most of the African countries. It is also a matter of the fact that the more cash-dependant informal economy can at times present even severe challenges to the law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, a deficiency in robust identity checks in the bid to verify the users along with a need for vast law enforcement resources and training on the crimes conducted through mobile devices has created a separate financial system that is vulnerable to the criminal infiltration.

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Image: Qz

The kinds of ID that are required to register for mobile money accounts aren’t standardized across the African continent. The acceptable documents vary from the national identity cards to the tax certificates, company IDS and the driver licenses. As the acceptable IDs belong to such a broad spectrum, it benefits the flourish of the mobile money services. It increases their vulnerability to money laundering, fraud and related other crimes. Parallelly, in spite of the progress in the rates of conviction for the offences done utilizing the mobile money, the technical expertise along with the equipment necessary for the complete investigations might prove to be difficult to be included in the court process.

It Is Now Or Never!

The mobile money services pose an essential threat to national security and consumers since it is poised for robust growth in Africa. But the actual vulnerabilities have not yet ben addressed. As the statistics go, by 2025, Sub-Saharan Africa’s smartphone user rates solely would leap roughly 39 per cent (as of today) to 66 per cent. The future prediction states that the higher smartphone adoption along with the broad array of the mobile money services on offer would probably level up the number of transactions carried on via the smartphone apps.

Cyril Gout, Interpol Acting Director of Operational Support and Analysis, states that the evidence demonstrates criminals are already exploiting the services in mobile money across Africa. What presents a challenge to the law enforcement agencies is the anonymity that these services offer most often combined with the technical nature of the industry. Furthermore, he added that the report emphasizes the necessity to act at the moment. They have brought in a new project named ENACT where the vulnerabilities are addressed. By following them, we all can assure the growth of the mobile money industry across Africa without getting compromised by those who are always ready to undermine it.

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Image: Global Initiative

How Is Project ENACT Beneficial?

With the help of Project ENACT, Interpol will be assisting the African cops in the bid to adopt several proactive strategies and combat organized crime threats facilitating information exchange and also enhancing the investigative skills.

Interpol’s Project ENACT is the very first initiative that has been so made to cover the whole African continent and will analyze the scale of the organized crime and its effect on the governance, security and development. The European Union funds the project. It has been implemented by Interpol and the Institute for Security Studies. They are partnered by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. The primary aim of this analysis is to inform the decision-makers and make the law enforcement cooperation stringent at both regional and continental levels.

Source: Interpol


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