E-Payment: Fraud Is No Basis For Competition – E-PPAN Boss | Independent Newspapers Limited
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E-Payment: Fraud Is No Basis For Competition – E-PPAN Boss

Posted: Mar 9, 2016 at 12:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Mrs. Onajite Regha is the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN). In this interview with Independent’s Emmanuel Okwuke She stresses the need to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders to tackle electronic fraud in the system, E-PPAN’s plan for 2016 and the challenges of getting people to embrace the cashless initiative of the Federal Government among other industry issues. Excerpts

How would you assess growth in the Nigeria’s e-payment industry in the last one-year? Will you say we have done well in terms of getting more people to embrace the various e-payments platforms?

Certainly, the Nigeria e-payment industry recorded a significant level of growth, especially in 2015. It is a highly competitive market, so providers are introducing new innovations, new market strategies and improved service delivery among other things to capture the market. I can categorically say that there has been major improvement in the general index of electronic transactions in Nigeria, compared to the previous years. People are becoming more comfortable and are therefore using the channels more.

However, as you know we still have a lot to do. A significant proportion of the population still remains unbanked and that is a worry for us at the Electronic Payment Providers Association. We have pencilled down mobile payment as a solution to this challenge, but we have not seen the impact we crave yet.
2015 was a rather languorous year, with the elections and the change of government, naturally things were a bit slow in the course of the year, but as we begin to understand the policies of the new government better, then investors will begin to align strategies and introduce more aggressive marketing and this will yield better results in 2016. The President Buhari’s administration is preaching anti-corruption, transparency and accountability. When we talk of payments, there is no better way to achieve these ideals than using electronic payment.

Electronic fraud remains a major threat to uptake of electronic transactions as statistics showed that banks lost N6.2 billion to e-fraud last year. Are there ongoing pro-active initiatives to tackle this?
All around the globe, electronic fraud is a major challenge, because we know that criminals follow the monetary trends. So now that money has moved online, we find criminals are there. But the fact is that industry stakeholders are not relenting and saying ‘Oh it is a global trend’. No we are committed to a safer payment system in Nigeria. We understand that payment is the nerve centre of the economy and we are ready to protect our turf.

In the industry, we have realised that fraud is not a basis for competition. We can compete on several other areas, but certainly not on fraud. So, we have seen increased collaborations within the industry in recent times. The industry has come up with many joint projects, all to protect our users and the system.
Funny enough, the fraudsters work together. They are organised. So if we have to check them, we have to be organised. You know technology evolves very fast and these fraudsters are usually very current with trends, payment providers are also trying to keep up with this speed to ensure that our systems are safe.
Recently, there have been so many initiatives to mitigate and control the incidences of electronic fraud in Nigeria, amongst other things. The Chip and PIN was introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to eliminate the weaknesses of the magnetic stripe cards. The CBN also mandated the Two Factor Authentication for Internal Banking Process.

Also, there was a circular on Card Present Fraud In Non-EMV environment. The Operations of Instant Payments was also reviewed. The Nigeria electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) has not rested on its oars since its formation. In 2015 NeFF recorded a lot of successes including commitments from the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Inspector General (IG) of Police.

The IG in his response to one of the prayers of NeFF set up Dedicated Payment and Card Crime Unit (DPCCU). Also all banks now have a 24 hours fraud desk. The Bank Verification Number (BVN) project is a major achievement and very soon we will all begin to enjoy the benefits of the BVN. The industry is also on the verge of establishing a Banking Risk Information Centre (BRIC).

Do you think collaborations among industry players across the e-payment value-chain are adequate and strong enough to address the issue of e-fraud?
Like I explained earlier, there is no other route to take. Let me put it this way. There are three steps in achieving safe payments. Step 1: is collaboration; step 2: is collaboration; and step 3: is collaboration. Fraud is not an issue for competition. Given the importance of providing secure payment systems whilst ensuring public confidence in electronic means of payment, the role of proactive fraud management cannot be over-emphasised.
The collaborative effort among stakeholders in the industry has always been the major advocacy of E-PPAN. No organisation can achieve or single handedly defeat the magnitude of threat posed by electronic fraudsters. There is need to team up with the regulatory agencies, the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and every single stakeholder in the payment chain. So E-PPAN will continue to advocate for information sharing among the industry players, as this will go a long way to compliment the ongoing efforts of the regulatory agencies in the industry.

Tell us the major role expected from the regulator, players and consumers if we are to reduce e-fraud is to the barest minimum?
We can say that regulators have been very bold in taking the lead in the fight against fraud. We have seen other players take active roles in the fight against fraud. However, I believe that our weakest link still remains the consumers. This is where I want the game to be enhanced. As an industry we need to increase awareness creation for the users of electronic payment. We need to get the users to be familiar with the tricks of the fraudsters. This is as important as installing world class technology and hiring world class experts. Common sense knowledge can go a long way to protecting every one of us.
NeFF is chaired by the CBN and for some time now. NeFF has examined the idea of having a full week dedicated to anti-fraud with plans to