The strong desire globally towards a cashless economy has led to a significant shift to digital payments thereby fueling a surge in cyber-attacks and digital fraud over the world. Ghana, like many other countries, has also embraced technology and has over the years made some notable strides in creating a digital economy to better the lot of its citizens. This has equally made it susceptible to various forms of challenges and attacks that results from technological advancement.
Currently, per the national identity system in the country, citizens are mandated to have a digital address, unique identifiers are being assigned to landed properties, while the national biometric identity cards are being linked to data such as social security and driver’s licences to assist in guaranteeing a reliable national database. There has also been major reforms in the country’s banking sector which has boosted the global risk assessment of the country’s financial sector, the mobile money interoperability platform has finally been able to connect mobile money wallets to bank accounts and E-zwich cards, with the paperless port and E-justice systems fully operational and functional. Underway as well is the creation of a platform to manage all government payments and receipts by 2020 whiles we look forward to the adoption of SWIFTgpi for cross-border payments by next year.
There are bound to be more of such continuous reforms to help the country to develop a competitive edge in the sub-region, but along with it comes the exposure to various technological vices as well. Therefore the call by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the African financial institutions at the SWIFT African Regional Conference in Ghana, to develop strategies to deal with cyber attacks and digital payment fraud, should not be downplayed in order that both the nation and consumers’ interest can be protected.
The establishment therefore of the National Cyber Security Centre, which is equipped with the responsibility of overseeing and coordinating the national cyber security programme and create cyber security awareness, gives some comfort and assurance that Ghana is ready to up its game towards the fight against cyber fraud. However, to ensure long term success, there’s the need for an efficient collaboration between law enforcement agencies and financial institutions and the adoption of a solid regulatory framework.
The financial institutions must also set up an efficient customer redress system, sound security measures, and continuous education of customers and merchants regarding best practices and risks of digital transactions among others. This will go a long way to boost investor and customer confidence whiles enabling them to securely transact business in the country and within the continent.