Safaricom, Banks Go for Illegal SIM Swaps in New Security Measure

Sim Card Registration

Over the years, cases of mobile money and bank fraud have been reported. There have been tens, and possibly hundreds, or even thousands of incidents in which individuals have lost their money from their mobile money wallets or bank accounts through social engineering or illegal SIM card replacements.

An illegal SIM card replacement can result in the loss of access to a person’s mobile money wallet, digital financial products, and banking information. If successful, these criminals can make away with thousands or millions of shillings, leaving the true owner of the line in debt and with police cases that are difficult to solve.

To address this issue, Safaricom is collaborating with banks to launch a new system that will protect customers from illegal access to their mobile money and bank accounts by implementing a SIM swap check anti-fraud feature.

The API service will allow banks to determine the most recent replacement of a customer’s SIM card, aiding in the assessment of the possibility of fraudulent transactions and the implementation of additional measures. This feature will be accessible exclusively to banks.

Safaricom will also offer ATM Vicinity Check solutions to reduce fraudulent transactions. Safaricom’s CEO, Peter Ndegwa, emphasizes the importance of partnerships in developing innovative solutions that protect customers and their funds.

The SIM Swap Check service will be provided to banks with a free monthly quota of checks and a premium tier for additional checks.

This service was developed after analyzing fraud reports to combat fraudulent SIM swaps.

The ATM Vicinity Check solution will also be provided for free and ensures that an ATM withdrawal can only be made if the transacting customer is in the same location as the ATM.

The banks that will be offering this service have not been mentioned, but chances are that leading lenders will adopt the solution. Equity Bank, for instance, has received backlash for lax security protocols on its end that have allowed fraudsters to steal from customers without consequences.

Safaricom has since offered a service that subscribers can opt into, which allows them to replace their SIM cards only from Safaricom Shops, and not at M-PESA agents.