….Money Laundering and Wrong Number Transactions
By Godwin-Xavier Ayeebo
Somalilandsun-Today, the mobile phone is used for many good and bad things. One of the good uses of the mobile phone is for business transactions in diverse ways.
Mobile Money businesses come in many ways and have begun to transform the traditional ways of transacting businesses and transmitting money. People are now walking with their money digitally.
Current Challenges of Mobile Money Business
Great and convenient as mobile money transactions might be for both customers and merchants, several times pleasant business transactions have not been experienced due to many factors hindering the mobile money business.
No Network, in Ghana this is a common practice experienced by customers, who do businesses through mobile money and they experience “no network” problems from the mobile money companies which provide the network services as well as the mobile money services. People have got their money locked up with these mobile money telecommunication companies even under circumstances that human lives are involved. People send money to family and friends to buy medications for sick people who are at emergency units only to be denied by the mobile money companies that there is no network and sometimes the “no network” could take a whole day. This is heartbreaking and horrendous.
System Upgrade, this could result in the “no network” syndrome or could also bring its own problems of not making business transactions friendly for customers for a particular range of time.
No Money, this also happens where the merchant or agent does not have enough money for withdrawal purposes by customers. Sometimes, the agents’ money also get locked up with the mother mobile money company because of the no network nonsense and sometimes, too their working capital is meager to take care of larger volumes of customers’ cash withdrawals.
Withdrawal Limits, this is where the mobile money telecommunication company places a limit on how much could be withdrawn by customers within a day. This could be stressful and time-consuming for the customers as it could take sometimes a whole week or more to make withdrawals of all one’s money locked up with the mobile money telecommunication without generating interest, yet they could use it to make more money at the customers’ expense. Some links have been established with some banks for withdrawals beyond certain limits but how many people transact businesses with those banks and how many branches do those banks have across Ghana?
Charges on cash withdrawals, the charges on withdrawals sometimes do not make it cost effective to send money through mobile money. Some of the mobile money telecommunication companies even charge double the amount charged. For instance, I send money to someone using my mobile phone registered number; they would charge me and charge the one I sent the money to when he withdraws. This does not make transacting businesses through mobile money for cost-effective. One of the main mobile money companies is guilty of the double charges and it needs to change for the better else, it will have itself to blame as others charge once, only the withdrawal point. They do not charge once the money is still in the system exchanging numbers or hands.
No interest on money with mobile money companies, even if one’s money stays in one’s wallet for three months, one will not get a pesewa on top as interest. The mobile money companies need to have a paradigm shit towards a win-win situation where the customer also benefits. There should be a minimum period for which if one’s stays with them beyond that period it should start to accrue some interest to the customer.
Money Laundering and Wrong Number Transactions, during the latter part of 2015, some measures were taken to check the activities of money laundering through mobile money business transactions because, it was noticed that people had begun laundering money through mobile money transactions and also people also either sent money to people wrongly or received money from people they did not know and that called for the measures that were introduced by Bank Ghana and the mobile money telecommunication companies to help check those activities.
Illiterates Have Difficulties, until recently that the processes of withdrawing cash through mobile money were reviewed; it was a bit complex for many people and people with no education or with very low educational backgrounds had and still have problems using their secret codes to withdraw money. Many times, the agents help them key in the pass codes for them to make withdrawals and so the illiterates do not really have secret codes as their “mm pins” are no more secrets. If per chance, someone, who knows their codes, gets access to their mobile phone, that person could use their details to withdraw money and it will take some time before the person could be arrested as they are countless mobile money agents scattered around in Ghana to be able to be traced easily.
Loss of Mobile Phone with Sim Card, if one loses one’s mobile phone together with the sim card loaded with one’s money; one could only get back the money after getting a new phone and new sim card replaced. So if one does not have money immediately to buy new phone and sim card or borrow someone else’s phone to make the mobile money withdrawals, one cannot have one’s money back.
Unregistered Dealers/Agents, there are few dealers out there who use their personal mobile phone numbers that are not necessarily registered for mobile money businesses with the mobile money telecommunication companies to transact mobile money businesses. Most of those dealers do not have enough working capital to serve their customers and keep disappointing them. Most of these dealers are located in the remote parts of the country, where moving to a town or city to have an enterprise registered with the Registrar General Department to be used for mobile money business transactions could be a very difficult task.
No regulation, currently in Ghana, there are no proper laws governing the operations of mobile money. The mobile money companies do want they want and their agents also do what they want. If a mobile money company winds up expectantly today, would we know how much money from Ghanaians would have been locked up with it and would it be in a position to refund the money to the customers and how convenient would it be? The issue of “No Network” where people have their money locked with the mobile money companies need to be stopped by the regulators. There should be punishments for mobile money companies that fail to honor their obligations with withdrawals with the excuse that there is no network, unless it is caused by an act of God.
The writer is an Accountant and Financial Literacy Activist
©, 2016, Godwin-Xavier Ayeebo