Telecoms giant MTN Ghana says there is no turning back on its new policy requiring valid identity documents of customers to complete cash-out transactions on its popular mobile money service, MTN MoMo.
That decision was not taken lightly, insists Mr. Eli Hini, CEO of MTN MobileMoney Limited, who explains that the tough decision was arrived at with the business fully aware of the implications, including the potential loss of business likely to result from non-conformist customers and agents and who would prefer to move on.
A good number of Agents, about 7,000 who failed to comply with the MoMo ID requirement for cash-out transactions since implementation by MTN on April 2, 2021, have had their wallets suspended. Effective Tuesday night, April 13, MTN has also rolled out an additional security layer – a customer ID pop-up on the phones and devices of agents - to further improve the service and instill confidence.
At a media engagement to provide updates on the rollout of the new order, journalists were told the new added security feature works in such a way that details of the owner of the MTN MoMo account would pop up on the agents’ phone to enable the agent validate the name on the ID card being tendered for the transaction.
If the details of the pop-up and the physical ID do not match, the transaction will be aborted.
Asked if MTN reckoned that the demand for ID card for cash-out transactions could cost the company some business, Eli Hini was positive about the cost.
According to him, MTN will persist with the education of both agents and customers to ensure proper understanding of the objectives of the measure, as particularly for the agents, it is a tool they require in their work.
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He also pointed that elsewhere in the sub-region, the production of ID documents are basic for mobile money transactions and see no reason why the same regime cannot operate in Ghana, explaining that the “ID requirement for MoMo transaction was an industry requirement when MoMo was first launched in Ghana but it was not effective at the time so it was pushed aside; but MTN felt the need to take the bold step and lead the way back to that requirement so others will have some learnings from our experience and follow.”
“Sometimes people’s behaviour may be just the lack of understanding and so we will reiterate the objectives, what we seek to do, the benefit to them as agents and how it supports the general Mobile Money service delivery and then we believe that once we get to that point when the agent understands and appreciates, he will be willing to support the project and we will all benefit.”
Eli Hini said there have been instances when MoMo agents have been on the wrong side of transactions without an ID where customers come back with complaints and because the agent has nothing to show who initiated the transactions, the agents bear the brunt as they are pretty exposed and defenseless.
“But with this one there is something to validate the transaction, who performed it, what details were checked and so that also helps in the investigation process. We believe that all-in-all it is a good initiative and we will continue to work with all the stakeholders to ensure its smooth implementation. We are not suggesting that it will be smooth, we understand that along the way there will be issues we need to manage, we will manage it as we move along. In the long run we think it is a good policy that will help the business to grow into the future.”