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SA telcos tap into global network to curb fraud

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 26 Feb 2024
Cell C, MTN and Telkom join GSMA initiative to combat SIM swap fraud.
Cell C, MTN and Telkom join GSMA initiative to combat SIM swap fraud.

Three South African mobile operators – Cell C, MTN and Telkom – have joined the GSMA’s Open Gateway initiative, in an effort to combat fraud and digital identity theft.

The GSMA Open Gateway is a framework of network application programme interfaces (APIs) developed in collaboration with mobile operators worldwide, and is designed to provide developers with universal access to operator networks.

As part of the initiative, says the GSMA, the local telcos will now be able to implement number verification and SIM swap using the two universal network APIs. The standardisation of APIs will allow local developers to implement number verification and SIM swap.

South Africa saw a 24% surge in reported incidents of digital banking fraud in 2022, according to last year’s report by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre.

The telecoms industry body indicates that standardising APIs by mobile network operators (MNOs) helps mitigate such threats. By leveraging their infrastructure and expertise, MNOs can enhance security measures within banking applications and online banking platforms. They are also able to implement fraud detection and prevention mechanisms.

Angela Wamola, head of Sub-Saharan Africa of the GSMA, says: “Banking fraud is a growing threat in South Africa, and mobile network operators are strategically placed to work with developers to help banks, financial institutions and commerce providers mitigate the risk and protect their customers.

“The availability of the two APIs to South African operators will equip enterprises with additional means of verifying that their customers are who they say they are and protecting them against identity theft, all while maintaining the user experience – and the GSMA’s Open Gateway provides developers with a single integration that works across operators.”

Introduced at MWC Barcelona 2023, the initiative fosters interoperability among operators, industry associations, developers and content creators, while adhering to all relevant technical standards, regulations and user privacy standards.

From South Africa to Norway, Brazil to New Zealand, 42 mobile operator groups worldwide – representing 237 mobile networks and 65% of global connections – are already part of the initiative, reveals the GSMA.

The new APIs ensure 100% privacy and will have important applications in various sectors, including banking, finance, insurance and retail, it states.

Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes comments: “Cell C is aligned to creating a collaborative ecosystem to protect consumers. A joint effort is crucial for achieving this goal.”

Saad Syed, CEO of Chenosis, part of the MTN Group, comments: “We are buoyed by the collaboration with other mobile network operators to provide a standardised, consistent experience to developers who wish to consume the services.”

Lunga Siyo, CEO of Telkom Consumer and Small Business, concludes: “Digital fraud is not only a threat to finances, but an assault on trust in the digital economy. We are excited to partner with the GSMA to eradicate the vulnerabilities that currently exist.”