Momo ACCOUNTS: Keeping your money closer to you or scammers?

*By Ewange Njenge Brenda, Enongene Lerise Mbulle, Tabe Clemantine and Narenga Lizzette

Besides life, money is arguably the next thing most treasured by mankind. Money is practically imprisoned in vaults and strong houses not because it has been found guilty and is serving a term but because it must be kept safe from thieves and other “predators.” The world over, individuals and nations are mostly respected on account of how rich or poor they are in monetary terms. They are valued mostly on how much they have “imprisoned” in the safety of bank accounts.

Cases of bank breaks abound more than those of penitentiary breaks at which prisoners are set free. In short, money as the common saying goes, opens every door. The rich West dictates to the poor Third World countries, including who should rule them and for how long. With their monetary wealth, the West easily decides who should have or be deprived of money. Sanctions, which are often obnoxious and mean are imposed on already poor countries that hesitate to open up their flanks for further exploitation. The case of Zimbabwe easily comes to mind.

It is also commonly said that money is the root of all evil. Little wonder, otherwise lazy school dropouts are adept at scamming themselves into fabulous monetary wealth; otherwise decent people succumb to the lure of money by carrying out unprintable businesses. Money is grown the same way cash crops are grown. Whereas cash and food crops are planted in the soil, money is planted in ideas, vaults, savings accounts and tontines, to name but these.

When armed robbers attack, it is most often because they are targeting one’s monetary wealth. Money buys cars, mansions, reputations, dignity, fame, women and more. Over the years, money economists decided that the cashless economy whereby purchases could be safely effected without the use of fiscal cash should be the order of the day. Yet, scammers and other people of doubtful credibility have turned out to be always a step ahead of the most intelligent and innovative monetary economists of the world.

Banks have been in existence for centuries. Business here is, under normal circumstances, characterized with first opening and running a savings or current account. At banks, customers are basically subjected to the acceptable tedium of queuing up in long lines if they must deposit or withdraw cash. Even if such cash was just a pittance, the depositor or withdrawer would be expected in certain cases to hang on patiently for hours on end. Advances have been made over time to beat this manner of time wasting at formal banks including the introduction of ATM machines and the like. Very recently, banking transactions were rendered even easier, brought to practically every fingertip by way of Mobile Money accounts, aka MoMo. It functions by way of the mobile telephone.

Mobile money appeared in the limelight in Cameroon in 2010. MTN mobile money first came, then a year later Orange Money was also launched. As at the last check there is a record 6,8 million MoMo subscribers with close to 1,5million being active users in Cameroon. The record kept on increasing year after year. Discerning Cameroonians have so far been enjoying this system of banking transactions, as everyone with a mobile phone could have an account, without undergoing the tedium of complicated paperwork often required in the conventional banking sector.

MoMo has saved the teeming Cameroonian population lots of headaches and a certain degree of privacy. It has also redistributed wealth, created lots of new jobs with thousands of mobile money agents were placed all over the country, doing brisk monetary transactions on roadside kiosks. The long waiting lines characteristic at formal banks with sometimes attendant rude clerks have dwindled.

Mobile money permits pretty easy business transactions. For example, if you go to a shop to buy goods and with money in your mobile wallet you could, with a few punches on your mobile phone pay for the goods through MoMo. Even university institutions enjoy this system. As for parents who send their children to school, instead of encountering the stress of physically going to school to pay their fees, they can sit back comfortably at home and send your money and register their children. Even more, you can be your very own callbox as you can buy credit from your memo account. Indeed mobile money has been a blessing to Cameroonians and beyond, we all enjoy the system.

Yet even though mobile money brought joy, it also came with its ugly aspects as scammers easily learnt how to hack individuals’ accounts without much ado, scamming them of all their money. Plus, the charges began increasing outrageously. Firstly let’s discuss about the knowhow of hacking a MoMo account. According to some persons we interviewed, individuals say to hack into an account is by knowing one’s password and it is shocking on how easy one’s hard earned millions could be thieved just like that.

Some of those we interviewed advised that different means of security should be put in place to better enjoy the mobile money system (MoMo). Now why will people hack accounts, under this topic several causes are included but all based under one motive and that is to unlawfully increase the hacking individual’s standard of living.

 Then concerning the withdrawal tariffs, was previously free but started increasing as now the principal telephony companies started cashing in on demand and charging between FCFA 50 and 500 based on the amount (FCFA 100 to one million) and even though till date MTN mobile money deposits are still said to be free the population can’t get off the shock of the outrageous increase in the withdrawal tariff.

But could these tariffs be reduced or cancelled outright? Zuumpay is a global mobile payment and financial service, and according to its founder a young Cameroonian named Ndamo Israel, this new system unlike mobile money doesn’t take or require charges to either deposit or withdraw.

Asked if a zuumpay system can be hacked his reply was: “The zuumpay system is built with state of the art security protocols securing from the system software, users account and every transaction. We are using from the required banking security system, applying compliance security protocols to ensure both software and system security. That is to say, no zuumpay account can be hacked.”                                                                                                                                                                                      *(UB Journalism students on internship)              

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