CBL warns of cyber-fraud

CBL warns of cyber-fraud

MASERU – Central Bank of Lesotho Governor, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, has warned of fraudsters who are taking advantage of increased use of digital platforms.
Speaking at the Money Month roundtable virtual meeting last Thursday, Dr Matlanyane said the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital platforms forcing businesses and individuals around the world to become technologically savvy.

Due to restrictions on movement, most financial institutions have resorted to digital platforms to offer services.
But that has come with its own downsides.
Dr Matlanyane said Covid-19 has also heightened financial scams both in day-to-day operations and on cyberspace.

“Criminals are taking opportunity riding on the pandemic to carry out fraudulent activities either in insurance policies, pensions, transfer and high return investments,” Dr Matlanyane said.
She said the existence of rogue elements in cyberspace pretending to be merchants compels consumers to learn to authenticate merchants while transacting online to minimise risks of falling victims.

The annual Money Month campaign, which is a collaboration between the government and the financial sector, is aimed at assisting consumers navigate through the financial landscape by equipping them with knowledge and skills that will assist them make sound financial decisions.
“Safe financial inclusion cannot be achieved without financial education hence it is significant to streamline financial education into the educational system and start (when they are) young,” Dr Matlanyane said.

“This will help cultivate a future generation that is fully equipped and enlightened where finances are concerned,” she said.
Financial inclusion and financial literacy, she emphasized, can no longer remain the responsibility of the government and the financial sector only, “but rather has to be everyone’s responsibility”.

“Financial education in businesses, households and individuals has been identified as critical to unlocking sustainable financial growth,” she said.
Dr Matlanyane said there are pressing financial challenges like lack of access to finance, inefficiency of systems to adapt to the digital age and slow processes in the development of a legal framework.

To address these challenges there is need for an increase in financial institutions taking part in the campaign, she said.
“The financial sector must delve into all significant sectors in this country like agriculture to enable them to develop relevant products,” she said.
“It is only through understanding and knowing these businesses or sectors better that we can assist them accordingly.”

If need be, she said, financial contracts will have to be written in Sesotho and also in a readable size.
“Currently the print discourages reading, consumers only know what is written if they ask. If not they are left in the dark,” she said.
“This should not be the case, it is wrong because consumers need to be fully informed when getting into contracts and understand their obligations.”

The United Nations Development Programme Representative, Betty Wabunoha, said more education is still necessary for financial inclusion and literacy.
These, she said, change behaviours and attitudes which assist in achieving financial wellbeing and resilience.
“Covid-19 has impacted financial health and financial sustainability and forced societies into a digital space,” Wabunoha said.

“Financial education is therefore important to help people navigate financial uncertainties emanating from Covid-19 but also offers them choices regarding their finances,” she said.
Deputy Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Rethabile Maluke, said financial inclusion continues to be a fundamental solution breaking barriers to inequality and eradicating poverty.

Maluke said even rural communities can be included through financial education.
“Entities like World Vision, Caritas etc have assisted rural communities cultivate good financial skills through informal saving and credit facilities,” Maluke said.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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