Revelations that hoodlums are increasingly manipulating information on bank cards and defrauding the owners of scarce liquidity in the country is, to say the least, disquieting. The introduction of cards in banking operations in Cameroon, like elsewhere, was hailed as a ground-breaking innovation that has been benefitting both the financial institutions and their clients. In effect, the novelty gave the population the opportunity to withdraw money from their accounts at will with little or no difficulty. It equally reduced long queues at bank counters and more importantly curtailed people-to-people contacts that are never void of ungentlemanly practices. Cases where unscrupulous bank officials allegedly connived with bandits to drain customers who cashed out huge sums have been minimised. Even now, the use of bank cards saves many bank users from contracting the nagging Covid-19 pandemic.
It is detestable that ill-intentioned people now hijack the system with malicious operations that inflict heavy financial losses on the population and the different banking structures. Placing cameras or other information-catching devices in teller machines to fraudulently pick vital information from customers’ cards is simply ingenuity from the wrong side. Financial losses from the unholy practices is said to be in billions. A great harm for people and their economy!
The disturbing phenomenon has the tendency to push back many who were already embracing the banking sector to shrink and resort to keeping money at home with all its socio-economic consequences. Efforts by governments and sub-regional institutions like the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) to step up the rate of population adherence to banking operations are seriously threatened in the wave of growing money theft through the fraudulent use of bank cards. That the integrity of banking institutions is dented here needs no emphasis again.
The golden book teaches that, “where one’s wealth is, so lies his/her heart.” Difficult for the heart to be tranquil when the security of the hard-earned money is not guaranteed like the case with the trending bad practices. Something therefore needs to be done and urgently too.
Even as the banks go for other innovative and more sophisticated mechanisms of protecting their customers from people who always want to reap where they have not sown, it behoves both parties to show prove of vigilance. Strict surveillance is needed at teller machines and customers should be aptly schooled on best practices that protect them and their money.
As the bandits innovate to swindle money, so too should banks and their officials protect their clients. There is need for well-adapted mechanisms to ensure the confidentiality of information contained in the bank cards and to safeguard the users and their resources. Research and innovation that is supposed to be the cornerstone of any visionary institution shouldn’t be optional especially in structures that gather savings from individuals and corporate bodies and finance the economy through loans and other services. This will also be safeguarding the credibility of the bank and the interest of those who choose to partner with them in saving and borrowing money. Simply put, safeguarding mutual wealth and this should be an imperative to be handled with all seriousness and celerity!