As Kenya embraces the digital economy, protecting the integrity of electronic and digital systems is paramount, with experts calling for enhanced public sensitization on digital vulnerabilities, which have increased due to the entrenched use of contactless financial services.
During a virtual forum convened to launch the 2021 Annual Kaa Chonjo! Card, Mobile and Online Safety Awareness Campaign, stakeholders in the financial, telecommunications, consumers and payments sector emphasised public awareness as a key component in securing digital and card payment services during the COVID-19 period.
Speaking at the event, the Communications Authority of Kenya acting Director General Mrs. Mercy Wanjau noted the increased incidences of cyber threats. According to the Authority’s sector statistics report for the fourth quarter of 2020, cyber threats rose by over 50 percent to 56.2 million incidences from 35.1 million threats reported in the previous quarter.
‘I am convinced that the increased cyber threat trend needs continued awareness on cyber hygiene across sectors if Kenya is to safeguard the gains made so far in ICT. In addition, there is need for cross sector collaboration on cyber awareness and information sharing,’’ she added.
Kenya Bankers Association Chief Executive Officer Dr. Habil Olaka noted that there has been a significant shift in bank customers’ preferences for digital services which, according to the Association’s Customer Satisfaction Survey of 2020, stood at 43 percent.
“While the banking industry’s digital resilience has continued to promote continuity in the financial services sector, rising cases of fraud need to be addressed further through consumer education’’, he said.
Eva Ngigi Sarwari, Visa’s Country Lead for Kenya, underlined the need for cross-sector partnerships in curbing fraud threats, adding that leveraging on data analytics can enable stakeholders to identify areas of vulnerability.
“With consumer’s shift online, fraudsters have sought opportunities to exploit changes in how people pay for goods and services. Visa, financial institutions, and payment providers work hard to keep consumers’ payments safe – using multiple layers of security to prevent fraud, protect data, and help them get their money back if they fall prey to fraudsters,” said Ms. Ngigi-Sarwari.
“We acknowledge that it is our role to support all our partners within the industry with high-quality and up to the minute data and analytics collected by our Consulting and Analytics division to assist in the overall quest to combat fraud within this market,” she added.
Retail Trade Association of Kenya CEO Ms. Wambui Mbarire said the heightened use of cards, mobile phones, and online payment channels in the retail sector necessitates constant monitoring of fraud trends and educating the public on measures to combat new types of fraud. ‘’Monitoring fraud trends is critical as it enables stakeholders to identify awareness gaps and ensure security of consumer monies is guaranteed,’’ said Ms. Mbarire.
Kenya Society For the Blind Chair Samson Waweru observed that promoting safety awareness is in line with the organisations vision of ensuring that no one is left behind. ‘’We are working with various organisations to increase access to services and equalization of opportunities for visually impaired persons by enabling programmes, capacity building, networking, partnership and influencing change,’’ said Mr. Waweru.
Consumer Grassroots Association Executive Director Alice Kemunto said creating financial security awareness is key in supporting consumers to navigate security risks associated with COVID-19.
The month-long campaign will be coordinated under the theme ’’Keeping Pace With Evolving Financial Services Security Challenges’’ – highlighting emergent security issues in light of the sustained shift to digital financial service solutions – necessitated by the Covid19 pandemic.