By Ifeoluwa Adebayo
Nigeria’s is among the 10 countries with the most-attacked ID documents by fraudsters in Africa, a new report by Smile ID, an African digital ID verification platform, has said. The latest 2024 report of digital identity fraud in Africa shows that identity fraud in West Africa is largely dominated by two countries, Nigeria and Ghana. “Due to the broad adoption of digital and biometric ID verification in Nigeria, the use of physical documents is less common than in other markets,” the report said.
It however said Ghanaian ID documents have a higher fraud rate and that the Ghanaian Social Security and National Insurance Trust, in particular, has the highest fraud attempt rate of 20 percent. “In the last two years, a large number of fraud attacks were directed at National ID cards, which accounted for 80 percent of all document fraud attacks. However, 11 out of the top 19 most attacked document types were also National IDs, with the Kenyan ID being the most vulnerable at a 25 percent fraud rate.”
According to the report, Nigeria is among the top 19 countries that has two most-attacked ID documents, which are National ID card with fraud rate of 18 percent and Voter ID card with fraud rate 12 percent. “With more national ID documents in circulation than ever before, the chances of them getting lost or stolen get increasingly higher by the year, exposing holders to potential document fraud,” it said.
Out of the top five most attacked ID documents in East African regions, four are national IDs and Kenya’s ID has the highest rate of fraud in the region. “There are several contributing factors, one of which is the continued prevalence of old National ID cards, which are constructed of black and white paper images, laminated in plastic,” authors of the report said. “The newer Huduma Namba cards have faced several challenges to adoption, beginning with opposition in the courts to how the data were collected. The current government in Kenya has announced more investment in, and consolidation of, existing ID systems in 2024,” they added.
Tanzania’s National ID emerged as the second most attacked with a 32 percent attempted fraud rate, while Kenya’s National ID ranked third at 26 percent.
In a related development, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given a directive to deposit money banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) to accept Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRCTD) and Refugee Identification Card, as means of identification for bank transactions. This followed the challenges encountered by refugees and asylum seekers concerning means of identification during financial transactions.
Analysts said allowing refugees’ identification cards for transactions would enhance financial inclusion. A circular signed by Kevin Amugo, Director, Finance Policy Regulation Department, referred all banks and OFIs to the provisions of the CBN AML/CFT Regulations 2013 (as amended) on customer due diligence.
The CBN noted that the MRCTD issued by the Nigeria Immigration Services; and the Refugee Identity Card issued by the National Commission for Refugee, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, are adequate means of identification for banking transactions.
Banks and other financial institutions are also required to continue to ensure that effective customer due diligence policies and procedures are implemented to combat money laundering, financing of terrorists, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction the CBN stated.