Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Kenya, SA worst hit by mobile payment fraud

Article Image
Mobile payment-related fraud is more prevalent in Africa than you would think, and it is estimated to be worth about $4 billion annually on the continent.

That's according to David Lotfi, CEO of mobile payment cybersecurity company Evina which analyzes more than 16 million transactions per day worldwide.

"In the Middle Eastern and African regions, the mobile fraud rate recorded beginning of 2021 was at 27% and of these fraudulent attacks, 60% were clickjacking and 19% malicious apps," Lotfi told Connecting Africa.

Lotfi said the top two African countries where mobile fraud is most prevalent are Kenya and South Africa. Evina's network of fraud sensors found that 51% of mobile-based transactions in Kenya were identified as suspect; while the percentage was 30% for South Africa and 10% in Cameroon.

"In Africa, we have the perfect storm of a youthful population using almost a billion mobile money accounts coupled with the Coronavirus-related one-third increase in Internet traffic," he said.

Founded in Paris, Evina's anti-fraud technology was created for mobile network operators (MNOs), merchants and payment gateways to fend off fraud and conquer new markets.

"Simultaneously we have a global money honeypot network active 24/7 worldwide that attracts fraudsters and reverse-engineers their mechanisms to get a better understanding from the inside out. All of this data is processed through edge computing which allows us to understand the data closest to the end user and assure the quickest response," Lotfi explained.

Have you been clickjacked?

Lotfi said mobile payment fraud is perpetrated by cybercriminals who commonly use malware to deprive an unknowing victim of funds via payment methods like mobile wallets or direct carrier billing (DCB).

Clickjacking is one of the more common types and has been around for over five years, but Lotfi said it can easily be blocked.

"Through the clickjacking technique, a fraudster intercepts a legitimate click and unknowingly directs the user to a website where sensitive financial and other details can be stolen.

"A specific example of this might include where the user clicks on a video they would like to play, but the click is intercepted by mobile fraudsters and ends up making a payment in the background while the user views the video. There are countless variations here but the model is the same," Lotfi explained.

Another very common technique is using malicious apps, which mobile users often download thinking they are legitimate apps.

"Malicious apps are trickier, these apps have been injected with malware during a disguised app update or right from the start when the user unwittingly downloads the app from the app store, with the same purpose of defrauding the user," he said.

He said fraudsters conceal malware in several common categories of apps such as wallpaper, flashlight and fitness tracker applications.

Protecting the ecosystem

Lotfi said that MNOs also need to better understand the negative impacts of fraud on their business and the entire mobile ecosystem, beyond money loss.

"The consequences of mobile fraud attacks go much deeper. MNOs can experience a breakdown of trust in their business relationships, damages to their brand image from the rise of fraud-related complaints, and restricted business opportunities," he added.

"Once this is understood, MNOs who are the orchestrators of mobile payments through DCB, need to protect themselves with the right anti-fraud solutions," Lotfi said. "MNOs have the right tools to fight mobile fraud, they just need to make cybersecurity their 2021 priority to decrease fraud and boost their business."

Evina is now protecting up to 90% of mobile DCB transactions in Ivory Coast, Morocco and Senegal. The French company also secures traffic in African countries Mali, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Botswana, Angola, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Lotfi says the continent is a key growth region for the firm.

"Africa is a strategic region of huge importance to Evina and the greater mobile industry because this is where strong double-digit growth is coming from. We cannot allow mobile fraudsters to gain a beachhead on this pivotal continent key to the future fortunes of so many telcos, aggregators and digital merchants," he said.

*Top image is of Evina CEO David Lotfi (Source: Evina).

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Customer experience is telco's next 'battleground'

South African social data and insights company BrandsEye thinks its unique blend of AI and human intelligence could help Africa's telcos face a battleground around customer service.


Liquid, Project Taara beam broadband across Congo River

Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Alphabet's Project Taara have found a way to bridge a particularly stubborn connectivity gap between Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo and Kinshasa in the DRC.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: August 2021

By Omdia Analysts

Omdia's analysts provide context and analysis about MTN's decision to exit Syria and not bid again for an Ethiopian license, as well as 5G news from Mauritius, Ghana, Mayotte and Reunion.


Research Bites: Blockchain potential for SA agriculture

By Roberto Mavilia and Roberta Pisani

This article, in collaboration with the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development explores how blockchain can be used in the agricultural sector to help improve production and distribution processes.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

AfricaCom perspectives


Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.


Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.


How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Digital Skills Enhancing Human Capital

As nations begin to look beyond the crisis of COVID-19 to the new future of work, an opportunity to leverage this disruption as a powerful catalyst for positive change exists – one that could reshape the future and provide more accessible, fair, and impactful digital education and training.

In this webinar, we focus on how digital skills can enhance human capital and help realise the extraordinary potential of intelligent, 4IR-ready African workforces.

Key topics include:

  • Importance of having more than basic digital skills – upskilling & reskilling
  • Championing access to online educational resources – affordable and reliable internet, electricity and hardware
  • Future career options for industry specific roles: Cloud, AI, industrial IoT, big data analytics
  • Education 4.0: How updating educational curricula is key for growth
  • The importance of progressive, industry-driven educational policy frameworks

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up