By Sharon Kinyanjui
Remittance inflows – money sent back home by Kenyans abroad – continue to provide a stable source of foreign exchange for Kenya while supporting many households. Data from the Central Bank of Kenya indicates that remittances rose to a record high of $290 million (Kshs 31.3 billion) in the first quarter of 2021, 27 per cent higher than the $229.8 million (Kshs 24.8 billion) recorded in the first quarter of 2020.
An interesting trend is that an increasing number of the 3 million Kenyans living abroad are opting for digital payment services as opposed to the traditional money remittance agents. This is also the case for recipients, who increasingly prefer digital checkout methods like mobile money and bank transfer.
While the convenience that digital payments brings is unparalleled, if not vigilant, making and receiving payments online also comes with the risk of cybercrime. From impersonation to unlicensed outlets taking advantage of customers, users of digital payment services need to stay vigilant when online.
Security is a top priority at WorldRemit, and we aim to put safety for customers at the heart of our processes as an increasing number of people opt for digital payments to Kenya.
Here are five tips from digital payments experts WorldRemit to keep you safe when transacting through digital channels.
- If it sounds too good to be true, avoid it
There are many reasons why people use digital payments services – receiving money from friends and relatives abroad is just one of them. Sometimes you may use digital payments service to process payments for online work or online investments. When looking for a service to use, be wary of persons or companies that approach you purporting to save you huge transaction or foreign exchange fees as long as they handle the transaction for you. The rule is: if it’s too good to be true, avoid it.
- Make sure you are using a licensed provider
Use only reputable and licensed payment providers such as WorldRemit. Go online to the relevant financial regulator website to determine if the payment provider is licensed. WorldRemit is a fully licensed international money transfer service and Authorised Electronic Money Institution.
- Check availability of customer support and user reviews
Even if you are using a digital service that is simple and easy to use, it is always reassuring to know that you can turn to a customer support team in case you encounter any challenges. WorldRemit has 24/7 customer support, meaning you can get help or questions answered at any time in any place around the world. The best source of information on the safety, security and general user experience of a service is other users. Visit a reputable website like TrustPilot to get users’ feedback on a service. WorldRemit currently has a 4.1 rating on TrustPilot out of 47,820 reviews. A majority of users have ranked WorldRemit as excellent (5 star).
- Stay vigilant and up to date on latest trends
Be alert for scams that target consumers after the completion of a transaction. It’s not uncommon for scammers posing as tech support to inform you that there is something wrong with your transaction or account. To avoid becoming a target of such scams, do not provide sensitive data such as your password, your date of birth and other personal information. Familiarize yourself with the official communication channels of your service providers and avoid communicating through unofficial lines – it’s mostly always a scam. Also stay updated on the latest information security trends, including ensuring you use a service with the latest encryption features and with clear disclosures about how they store and utilize users’ personal information.
- Beware of people impersonating brands
A common trick involves someone creating a fake social media account in an attempt to convince you that they are someone they are not to gain your trust. Hooks such as ‘invest and we’ll give you a 10x return‘ are used, but once you have parted with your money you are unlikely to speak to anyone again. Make sure you check out who you are talking to and verify it is actually the brand you think it is. Contact your intended company directly via their website to be on the safe side.
Keeping these simple tips in mind can save you, your business, friends and loved ones from financial losses arising from online payment scams.
(Sharon Kinyanjui is Director for Europe, Middle East & Africa Receive Markets, WorldRemit).