Mobile money is a service which permits customers to obtain access to financial services employing cellular devices by dialing Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes. USSD is a low tech communications protocol for mobile communication technology which is used to send text between mobile telephones and an application program in the mobile network that does not require users to have access to the internet. The use of USSD is prevalent and widespread in Africa and Asia, despite the growing popularity of smartphones. In countries where there is need to bridge the gap with the poor and the financially excluded, the use of USSD is even more prevalent because of its offline capabilities, low cost and availability on basic feature phones which consume very low battery power. Mobile money technology which enables users to store, send and receive money without the transactions entailing the use of bank accounts is a strategic tool for financial inclusion in Cameroon.
It is fair to say Mobile money technology has disrupted the financial sector in sub-saharan African countries and fueled the social-economic transformation in many of these countries, notably Cameroon. As evidence, in 2021 the number of registered mobile money users in sub-saharan Africa rose to 548 million users, a 12% year-on-year increase with a transaction value of US$490bn and the volume of transaction for that year sitting at 27.4 billion transactions. In Cameroon, a significant positive impact has been observed with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) where mobile money payment and receipt services contributed to the order of 73% of the total variance in the turnover of the SMEs in Douala after they had begun to use the technology.
96% of Cameroon population is covered by mobile GSM network (2G and above) – GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index 2019 –. Thus making Cameroon a high candidate to use Mobile Money in order to accelerate financial inclusion. In Cameroon, holding a mobile money account significantly influences the facilitation of access to financial services for households.
However, cyber threats pose a major concern to the health of Mobile money. For instance, in 2017, cybercrime in mobile-based transactions costs businesses an estimate of $140 million per year in Africa. In Cameroon, the National Agency of Telecommunication (NAT) has valued the loss due to mobile money and bank attacks at 6bn Fcfa in 2019 alone  and the loses continue to grow. To take full advantage of the capabilities of Mobile money platforms and to extend the services, most third-party providers and clients often use an Application Programmable Interface (API) to integrate with Mobile Money platform. At the same time however, we found out in previous reports that organizations in West and Central Africa are not usually fully aware of the security risks of the technologies they deploy and the cybersecurity skills gaps they may have. Because of the strategic importance of mobile money to financial inclusion in Cameroon, there is therefore a need to study if there are any cybersecurity risks and threats to consumers in the use and implementation of APIs in the mobile money ecosystem.
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