Safaricom CEO Promises Biometrics and Mobile Money Suspension to Tackle SIM Swap Fraud

Leading Kenyan telco Safaricom has announced they will experiment with fingerprint and facial recognition technology, with the goal of improving identity verification and so reducing the risk of fraudsters taking over a customer’s account via a SIM swap. Safaricom also stated that access to a customer’s M-PESA mobile money funds will be temporarily suspended whenever there is a change of the SIM associated with an account. This latter measure should discourage fraud by making it less likely that criminals will be able to withdraw funds before a customer has had the opportunity to notify Safaricom that they have lost control of their service.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (pictured) explained the motivation for these new anti-fraud measures:

SIM fraud has been a huge pain point for our customers and we have taken these concerns very seriously. Our customers remain at the centre of everything that we do and in the next couple of months, we will put in place measures that will help us address this issue as we also work closely with DCI and the police.

You can read Safaricom’s press release here.

Next week Safaricom will host RAG Nairobi, a conference for risk and assurance professionals working in the telecoms sector. Mobile money risks, anti-money laundering and prevention of SIM swaps all rank high on the agenda, which features expert speakers from Safaricom and other leading African operators. There are still a few free seats available for employees of telcos and regulators; registration instructions can be found here.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.