Safaricom to hide customer identity on Lipa Na M-Pesa 

Safaricom is adopting a new model for its Lipa Na M-Pesa platform aimed at curbing leakage of personal information.

Effective June 2022, the company says it will only display the user’s first name and a few digits of their number, a move aimed at protecting subscribers’ essential details from unscrupulous hands.

“At the end of June, phone numbers and full names of subscribers making transactions will no longer be relayed to partners,” it says.

In the current practice, merchants have access to personal information which could be used to send unsolicited advertising, specifically through text messages.

Safaricom’s move comes at a time when 41% of companies have acknowledged transferring customer data to third-party providers. A survey by Ernest Ernst & Young (EY) revealed that 27% of these companies passed this information without seeking approval from their clients.

It is such practices that Safaricom seeks to remedy by prohibiting access to subscriber details.

“Pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2019 which came into law on 25th November 2019, Safaricom will be changing how they share data with Lipa Na M-Pesa Partners in general,” The telco noted.

Individuals who violate this code face a  maximum fine of Sh3 million or 10 years in jail, while firms risk a fine of up to Sh5 million or one per cent of annual turnover.”

The report by Ernst & Young (EY) shows that client data was shared with partners in business, while others gave information to law enforcement officers for investigations.

In other cases, data was shared for analysis, processing transactions, and sending SMS alerts to advertisers while instances of selling the data to vendors were also rampant.

In the digital era, data is highly valuable and middlemen attempt to intercept it at any available opportunity.

Truecaller, the caller identifier company based in Stocholm notes that Kenya ranks third among countries that receive the most spam messages. An average of 102 messages are sent to subscribers per month per subscriber.

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Simon W Nderitu

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