Mobile money services between MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda customers have been restored. They had been suspended on October 5 after unknown hackers comprised the systems of Pegasus Technologies, the financial technology firm that links mobile wallets of Airtel customers to those of MTN Mobile Money.
“MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda wish to inform the public and their customers that mobile money services between the two networks have resumed,” reads a statement issued Monday by Wim Vanhelleputte, the chief executive of MTN and VG Somasekhar, the managing director of Airtel.
“Customers can now send and receive money across both networks.”
The attack on Pegasus also affected Stanbic Bank Uganda and billions of shillings are said to have been lost during the attack though customer accounts remained safe.
“Stanbic Bank Uganda, MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda inform the public and their customers that on Saturday 3 October 2020, a third-party service provider experienced a system incident which impacted Bank to Mobile Money transactions All Bank to Mobile Money,” the companies said in a joint statement.
“Wallet services have since been temporarily suspended. This system incident has had no impact on any balances on both Bank and Mobile Money accounts.”
According to the latest communications sector market performance report released by UCC, at the end of June 2020, the number of registered mobile money accounts had grown to 25.9 million accounts, up from 25.5 million at the end of March 2020.
This growth translated into a quarter on quarter growth of 2% despite a drop in mobile subscriptions of 11% between March and June 2020.
According to the 2019 Annual Crime Report, police registered 248 cybercrimes, a significant increase from 198 reported in 2018. As hackers targeted unsuspecting people, Shs11,446,603,500 was lost and detectives managed to recover only Shs51,890,000 in that year.
The money was taken through established institutions like Airtel, MTN, Dfcu, which you’d expect to have sophisticated technologies to protect customers.
519 sim cards were fraudulently swapped in 2019 and most of these crimes were engineered by staff within telecom companies. Sim swapping is where one number is duplicated to make two or more lines working at the same time.
And hackers have used these cards to transfer and steal monies from various banks and mobile money accounts.
According to the 2019 report, agents deployed to register sim cards acquire Biometric data from customers during registration, which they use to register cards that are sold to criminals.