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‘Mobile money security is Kenya’s next big challenge’

Kenya , 08 Apr 2014

‘Mobile money security is Kenya’s next big challenge’

Attention needs to be paid to the security of mobile money systems in Kenya especially with the licensing of three virtual network operators in the country, say experts.

Kenya has the world’s largest mobile money market as the country is home to over 25 million users of the transfer system, according to the local telecoms regulator.

The system has become so entrenched in Kenyan financial life that the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) says 48% of the country’s citizens use mobile money to pay for key bills such as utilities.

But the mobile money market in Kenya is set to heat up after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) has licensed three mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs): Equity Bank’s FinServe, Zioncell and Mobile Pay.

The MVNOs are set to join Kenya’s largest player in the mobile money space, Safaricom, which says it has over 11 million users of its M-Pesa system.

And experts say that as more players enter the mobile money space, more focus must be shifted onto the security of these systems.

“Now that we have arrived at the $20 million mark it is clear that (mobile money transactions) are a major component of the Kenyan economy and they need to be secured,” Kyai Mullei, co-founder and chief executive officer of M-Changa, a mobile fundraising tool, told ITWeb Africa.

“Now when it comes to mobile money payments, there are really two forms of authentication that are needed. The first one is the personal identification number (PIN) for your phone and the second one is the PIN for your mobile money account,” Mullei said.

“What we expect to see in the in the next few months especially from the mobile money operators is that they will begin to secure your transactions by making you periodically change your phone PIN in order to guarantee you transaction is secure,” he added.

Mullei’s call comes as Kenya increasingly becomes a target for cybercriminals.

According to Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keriako Tobiko, the East African country is losing Ksh 2 billion annually on cybercrime.

As a result, the DPP earlier this year set up a special dedicated unit that will handle all cyber-crime related cases in the country.

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