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South African operators enhance security with GSMA Open Gateway APIs, combating digital fraud in MWC 2024. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

As part of the global GSMA Open Gateway initiative, South African operators will now be able to implement world-class Number Verification and SIM Swap – Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) – to coincide with the start of MWC 2024

They will be available to all mobile commerce, financial institutions, and developers to create new services to combat digital fraud and protect South Africa's 47 million mobile subscribers.

South Africa saw a 24% surge in reported incidents of digital banking fraud in 2022, according to a report published last year by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC). The rise, which resulted in cybercriminals stealing over R740 million (US$38mn) from unsuspecting victims, was primarily attributed to the growing number of fraud cases related to banking applications and online banking.

Given the alarming surge in digital banking fraud in South Africa, standardising APIs by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) presents a promising avenue for mitigating such threats. By leveraging their infrastructure and expertise, MNOs can enhance security measures within banking applications and online banking platforms. They are also able to implement robust fraud detection and prevention mechanisms, bolstering overall resilience of digital banking systems against cyber threats.

The standardisation of APIs allows developers to implement:

* Number Verification – offers seamless verification of a user's mobile number by providing the next generation of strong authentication and user experience. It is a simple evolution path for any business that uses mobile numbers and SMS One-Time-Passwords. Instead of relying on SMS, Number Verification can be seamlessly and automatically activated to verify a user's identity.

* SIM Swap – used to check whether a given phone number has recently changed SIM cards. This helps to prevent account takeover attacks, in which fraudsters take control of the account owner's SIM card using social engineering techniques and stolen personal data. For example, at the time of a financial transaction, a financial institution can check whether the relationship between the customer's phone number and SIM card has recently been changed, helping them to decide whether to approve the transaction or not.