Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank on security alert

Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank on security alert

Central bank urges vigilance as country experiences surge in online and mobile banking.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has cautioned local banks and payment companies to be extra vigilant amid a spike in the volume of internet and mobile payments, fuelled by the ongoing cash shortage in the country.

Central Bank Governor John Mangudya urged businesses to be on their guard against cyber security breaches as consumers head online rather than use traditional channels like ATMs to secure cash.

"Financial institutions and individuals are increasingly being exposed to cyber-attacks which have become more sophisticated, frequent, targeted and difficult to identify," said Mangudya.

He added that Zimbabwe's payment systems recorded positive growth with the exception of cheques and ATM transactions during the 52-week period to the end of December 2018.

An excerpt from the 2019 Monetary Policy Statement reads: "Mobile financial services transactional activities went up by 145% to US$44-billion from US$18- billion whilst volumes increased by 121% to US$1.7-billion from US$755-million in 2017. Internet transactions increased by 8.63% to US$13-billion in 2018."

Financial institutions have been mandated to update cyber security policies, strategies and frameworks and submit these to the Central Bank by 31 March 2019.

They have also been instructed to migrate to Euro Mastercard Visa (EMV) Technology platforms by the end of the month.

This is understood to be aimed at further enhancing cyber security owing to the increased usage of digital payments.

"Further to the cyber security guidance, market participants are required to migrate to Euro MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standards to ensure enhanced card security features to curb cyber related activities. Currently, over 80% of the card infrastructure in the country is now EMV compliant.

"Financial institutions should therefore ensure that all cards issued in the market are EMV compliant by 31 March 2019," notes the central bank.