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To make ePayments more acceptable, Nigeria needs to curb fraud

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By Victor Irechukwu, Head of Engineering, OnePipe

When a credit alert drops on your phone, chances are you will get excited. Even if it wasn’t a surprise and you were expecting that money. But when it is a debit alert, there’s also a certain type of gloom you feel; you want money to keep coming in but as little as possible of it going out.

Victor Irechukwu, Head of Engineering, OnePipe

Victor Irechukwu, Head of Engineering, OnePipe

It may be safe to say most of us feel that way.

Now, imagine the debit alert was for a transaction you know nothing about. A commonly reported theme has been alerts that your card was used to make deposits on a gambling website, whereas you may never have even indulged in gambling your entire life.

At other times, you are shown a debit alert by someone who wants to purchase goods or services from you, but only later realise they showed you what has now been termed ‘fake alerts’. By this time, your goods, for instance, would have been long gone.

In recent months, social media has been awash with reports of money literally growing wings and leaving some people’s accounts to those of other people without authorisation. Many of these cases have gone viral on social media, causing embarrassment for the banks involved – The issues are either quietly – or corrected with public acknowledgement. But not all are resolved, at least not yet.

As much as the country and even individuals would like to go cashless, these bad experiences leave a sour taste in the mouth, and they have continued to rain on the parade as Nigeria marches towards a cashless economy. It must be stressed that a cashless economy does not mean theft of money will stop, what it does is to change how thieves go about it. But more importantly, it also doesn’t mean thefts must occur, at least not if systems are strengthened and the right protocols are put in place.

In the electronic world, an article on The Balance Money describes hackers as the bank robbers and muggers and in a cashless society we are all exposed to them. According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), growth in the use of electronic channels, specifically mobile devices has also enticed fraudsters into focusing their efforts on these electronic channels.

When an attack is successful and the culprits are able to drain funds from your account, you could be effectively left stranded. God forbid you needed that money for a life threatening emergency because that could be the end unless you are one of the lucky few whose funds get recovered in a place like Nigeria – and on time too.

Agusto & Co.’s ‘2022 Consumer digital banking satisfaction index for Nigerian banks’, found that approximately 59 percent of respondents had been fraud victims on the digital platforms of their banks.

The figures in terms of number of attacks, success rate and amounts lost remain a source of concern. By the third quarter of 2022, the total number of frauds & forgeries cases reported by Nigerian banks was 19,314 as against 27,356 incidents reported in the second quarter of 2022.

But there’s more. While the number of attacks represents a 29.40 percent decrease between the periods, the total sum reported to be involved in fraud cases increased by 9.50 percent to N9.62 billion from N8.78 billion in Q2 2022. Also, for the total amount lost due to fraud incidents, there was a significant increase of 207.94 percent from N1.17 billion in the second quarter of 2022 to N3.62 billion in the third quarter of 2022.

In essence, the number of attacks may have decreased within that particular period, but more money was lost to the fraudulent attacks.

These insights were provided in the Q3 2022 report by FITC, an organisation mandated to receive data on fraud from all Nigerian banks and prepare quarterly reports. The figures show that the highest number of occurrences were recorded under computer/web fraud followed by mobile fraud which includes fraud activities through USSD transactions and ATM related fraud.

BusinessDay had even reported that every day between January and March 2022, there was an average of 450 incidents of frauds and forgeries against Nigerian bank customers. In those three months, the attackers targeted N14.65 billion, with Computer/Web Fraud responsible for N10.57 billion (72.18 percent), and Mobile Fraud recording 1.48 billion (10.08 percent).

Those 40,522 attacks had resulted in N1.54 billion lost by bank customers. Computer/Web Fraud accounted for 70.51 percent (N1.07 billion), followed by Mobile Fraud accounting for 17.58 percent (N270.92 million) at the time.

Going back a bit, data by NIBSS also showed that fraud attempts via mobile channel saw a 330 percent increase year-on-year (YoY) between 2019 and 2020, while attempts via web and POS channels saw a 173 percent and 215 percent increase YoY. In those nine months, 96 percent of the attacks were successful and there were 46,126 of such attacks.

“This trend is expected to continue as Nigeria further grows financial inclusion and customers become increasingly dependent on electronic channels for their day-to-day transactions,” said NIBSS. In other words; things are expected to get a lot worse, according to the organisation described as Nigeria’s central switch for the financial industry.

Fraud is and has always been a large threat to commerce and e-payment transactions. It is impossible to totally eliminate the chance of fraud, but applying timely measures and ensuring the use of secure payment infrastructure can help reduce or even eliminate these risks. Security should continue to be top priority for every party involved in ePayment transactions. Fraud prevention involves taking measures to stop fraud from occurring and taking steps to detect frauds quickly (when they occur) and stop them as soon as possible. Different techniques for preventing and detecting frauds are required as there are different types of fraud in e-payment transactions.

Awareness of these risks by merchants, consumers and individuals plays an important role in reducing fraud in e-payment transactions. Merchant awareness and education is important – they should be aware of the types of frauds, implications and application of best practices. Consumer awareness and education is also important in order to reduce identity theft or payment data theft. This would help the individual in adopting an active and cautious attitude when carrying out electronic transactions. It could teach them to be aware of possible risks, avoid e-scams, and minimise giving vital information to merchants (or other parties) when carrying out electronic payments.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

E-Business

CrediCorp Partners FintechNGR to Drive Consumer Credit Initiative

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Nigerian Consumer Credit Corporation (CrediCorp), has partnered Fintech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR) to drive consumer credit scheme initiative through a robust payment platform that would be provided by members of FinTechNGR.

Speaking at a Social Meet in Lagos, organised by FinTechNGR, with the theme: “Augmenting the Future, AI, Credit and Transformation of Nigerian Finance,” the Chairman, CrediCorp Board of Directors, Aderemi Abdul-Bojela, said members of FinTechNGR would have specific roles to play in the partnership, in the areas of providing robust platform for money transfer, technology evaluation, among others.

“Today, CrediCorp is engaging with members of FinTechNGR in a social interactive gathering to discuss collaboration and support for the growth of Consumer Credit Corporation in Nigeria. We want to interact to understand how technology will drive the crediCorp initiative in Nigeria and also to understand the role that members of FinTechNGR will play in all of these initiatives around CrediCorp,” Abdul-Bojela said.

Describing the partnership as a welcome development that will enhance savings culture among Nigerians, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of FinTechNGR, Dr. Babatunde Obrimah, said: “FinTechNGR is an enabler of technology advancement in Nigeria. We bring the players together to drive technology innovation.

“Our role in the FinTechNGR-CrediCorp partnership is to ensure that our members support the growth of consumer credit in Nigeria, by providing the relevant payment platforms for all financial transactions among the banks who are the lenders, the customers who are the burrowers and the CrediCorp who is the guarantor.”

Speaking about the benefits for Nigerians, Obrimah said the Consumer Credit Corporation in Nigeria would enhance the country’s credit culture and enable Nigerians to save and plan well with their savings. “The initiative will address inflation, help in liquidity flow, build trust in customers’ borrowing, boost credit culture and enhance the culture of savings among Nigerians,” Obrimah said.

Addressing the issue of risk and consumer trust, Abdul-Bojela said the CrediCorp has put measures in place to ensure that the banks that would be involved in lending, would be protected and guaranteed of the repayment of the loans within the CrediCorp ecosystem.

He said there would be an independent management that would ensure that the right technology is put in place to recover all monies.


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E-Business

NITDA to Integrate of Digital Literacy into School Curriculum

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Kashifu Abdullahi, director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), announced plans to integrate digital literacy into Nigeria’s education system, to achieve a 70% literacy rate by 2027 and 95% by 2030.

NITDA to Integrate of Digital Literacy into School Curriculum

Kashifu Abdullah, DG, NITDA

The NITDA’s DG made the announcement on Wednesday in Abuja during a media parley.

He stated that in order to include digital literacy in the curriculum at all educational levels, from kindergarten to university, the Agency was collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Education.

Abdullahi, said that this program would equip Nigerians with the digital know-how and abilities they need to succeed in the digital economy.

He emphasized that NITDA would also launch the “Digital Literacy for All Initiative” to educate Nigerians outside the formal education system and provide access to quality digital content.

Nigeria would train over two million young people in in-demand IT skills in order to become significant global outsourcing hub

NITDA is also collaborating with the Defence Headquarters and security agencies to develop digital solutions to address security concerns, including the use of drones, artificial intelligence, and other digital resources to combat banditry, abduction, and terrorism, he said.

 

According to him, the agency’s draft SRAP 2.0 plan aims to establish Nigeria as a digitally empowered nation, with a focus on innovation, national prosperity, and inclusivity.

The director general of NITDA added that, if successfully implemented, this strategy could propel Nigeria into a new phase of digital empowerment and leadership in the global digital economy.


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E-Business

Experts Highlight Trusted Relationships as Key Vector

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In 2023, more than 1/5 of cyberattacks persisted for over a month, the annual Kaspersky Incident Response 2023 report has revealed, with trusted relationships emerging as one of the main attack vectors in these prolonged cases.

The report draws on the results of Kaspersky’s cyberattack investigations throughout the year, gathered when supporting organisations sought incident response assistance or when hosting expert events for their internal incident response teams.

Primary reasons of organisations approaching Kaspersky Incident Response team with service requests were encrypted files (32.8% of requests), suspicious activities (31%), data leakage (20%), and also included non-authorised accesses (3%), service unavailability (3%) and money theft (1.6%).

Among initial attack vectors of the investigated incidents were exploiting public facing application (42.4%), compromised accounts and BruteForce attacks (28.8% in total), trusted relationships (6.78%), phishing (5%), insider’s activity (3.4%).

Kaspersky Incident Response 2023 report indicates that long-lasting cyberattacks that persist for more than a month constituted 21.85% of the total, increasing from 2022 by 5.55%.

One notable trend observed in these attacks was the exploitation of trusted relationships as a primary vector. Compromises leveraging trusted relationships have occurred previously, but in 2023 their frequency increased.

As this method of attack enables threat actors to infiltrate multiple victims through a single compromised organisation, investigative teams face several additional challenges. Firstly, initially targeted organisations don’t always recognise the importance of thorough investigations and may be reluctant to cooperate.

Secondly, attacks initiated through trusted relationships often require more time to progress from the initial intrusion to the final incursion phase. Therefore 50% of these attacks lasted more than a month. A similar proportion of attacks exceeding one month were exclusively registered within the insider and phishing vectors.

“Our latest findings underscore the critical role of trust in cyberattacks. In 2023 and for the first time in recent years, attacks through trusted relationships were among the three most used vectors. Half of these incidents were discovered only after a data leak had been found.

“By exploiting trusted relationships, threat actors can prolong attacks and infiltrate networks for extended periods, posing significant risks to organisations. It’s imperative for businesses to remain vigilant and prioritise security measures to safeguard against such sophisticated tactics,” comments Konstantin Sapronov, Head of Global Emergency Response Team at Kaspersky.

 


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