Matching the Euphoria of Digital Banking with Enhanced Fraud Awareness

“If they [banks] can get the security right, we’ll have the tools to create a truly end-to-end digital banking solution, with less need to visit a branch ever again.”  ….. Columinate Research Group, South Africa.

The Digital Banking Euphoria

Come to think of it, banking is so easy these days. I just pass by the branches and go to the ATMs to take my cash. I don’t even need much since I can purchase my fuel, medicines, groceries, my post-paid MTN, my DSTV, utilities and virtually everything with my VISA card, mobile money or internet banking. I am yet to use the banks’ intelligent ATMs for cash deposit because I don’t even deal in much cash to have extra to deposit. I receive payments of my books through mobile money and use it for payment of some of my expenses. Life is made easy now. I use internet banking for electronic transfers using my smart phone or laptop. Sometimes I just go into the bank if my cash demand exceeds my daily limit, collect or request a new cheque book. I use electronic mails to instruct my bankers to perform some transactions on my behalf if need be. This is of course done under the needed indemnity to ensure the bank is covered.

This is all easy for me because of my background as a banker, now turned customer of various banks. It is really different when you now stand behind the bank’s counters!

The Exploitation of The Digital Trend

Last week, I read an article in the BUSINESS TECH, (30th June Edition) by Luke Daniel titled: “Digital banking fraud in South Africa: Scams to watch out for”. It discusses the worrying findings from a research group, Columinate, which released its annual report dealing with digital banking. The numbers as reported shows that digital banking fraud is at an all-time high in South Africa. Their research focused on 13,000 South African e-bankers, analyzing their behaviour and experiences when using digital banking platforms. The growing trend in banking through digital platforms and apps relates to convenience, with most people desperate to avoid having to head into a physical bank. Ease of accessibility and availability which extends beyond regular working hours makes online banking platforms an attractive alternative, but it doesn’t come completely hassle-free. Fraudsters and online criminals are finding ways to exploit the digital trend. While banks are fortifying their apps, elaborate scams continue to break through security systems.

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Before I continue, let me congratulate Mr. Albert Antwi-Bosiako, and his Team for winning the coveted award by GITTA.  The Cybersecurity firm, e-Crime Bureau, was on Friday, June 29, 2018, recognized as the ‘Cyber Security Company of the Year’ at the 2018 Ghana Information Technology & Telecoms Awards (GITTA). I am sure they will be urged to even do more to bring more innovative technologies in the area of cybersecurity and forensics.

E-crime has been training bankers on cyber-security, and as a beneficiary I can say that my eyes were opened widely after attending one of their earlier programs many years ago. I believe we need them even more, now that customers are more prone to cyber risks than before. Regrettably, some illiterates are becoming beneficiaries of e-banking products and services!! Why am I saying so? Some of the product-bundling techniques of some banks are making illiterates sign on to services they hardly understand. If a bank makes a blanket policy that all withdrawals below a specified amount should be taken at the ATM, otherwise there is a charge when one makes an appearance in the banking hall to collect the cash from the Teller!!! I hope this information I have heard is only hearsay.

We need more cyber-security experts to share knowledge on risk management with bankers and customers as well. We hear big stories about scams on big corporate bodies.  However those perpetuated on individuals, SMEs as well as the banks themselves are uncountable.

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Digital banking fraud in South Africa

According to Columinate: “It’s discouraging to discover that digital banking fraud is at an all-time high, and there’s been a steady increase in this trend over the last four years.”  It listed a few new scams that South Africans need to be aware of:

  • 13% of users fell victim to the advanced “Free Loan” / “Prequalified Loan or Credit Card” scam.
  • 8% of users fell victim to the “You are a winner” Pay-to-Play scam.
  • 7% of users fell victim to phishing scams – while 36% of users were targeted.
  • 6% of users fell victim to the traditional 419 scam.
  • 4% of users were taken advantage of with the “Request for Help” email fraud (which is the natural evolution of the 419 scam – asking for help and promising riches in return).

Criminals are evolving along with technology, this results in a constant cat-and-mouse game between fraudsters and online security experts.

I have been reading several articles by the IT gurus in various newspapers. How can banks translate these into an awareness creation for the bank staff as well as customers who utilize the services?


Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.


Website  or

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343

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