FBC have since issued their own response here.
After going through the impressive five minutes it takes to open a FBC Mobile Moola account and linking the account with Ecocash, I decided to take it for a spin. After making a routine purchase I instinctively checked my phone to see how much had been deducted from my account.
There was no SMS alert from FBC so I just assumed it was a network issue. Although it doesn’t happen as often as it used to in the past, these glitches still happen. Sometimes the message comes several hours later or never arrives. However after using the card for a few days without receiving an SMS alert every time I made a purchase I became a little concerned.
I quickly narrowed possible reasons for this “glitch”. Either my account was a little bit new and had not yet been completely configured or the whole thing was by design. I got in touch with FBC’s support team on Facebook and sent them a message (DM). Turns out the whole thing is by design.
Good old greed at work here
The thing is Mobile Moola is a lite banking account that does not incur fixed banking charges that normal accounts incur on a monthly basis. Instead the lite account holder is charged a fee every-time they make a transaction including checking their balance. To encourage people to check their balances, and make money in the process, FBC deliberately does not send people their account balance information every-time a purchase is made. The reward for them is an irresistible $0.15 every time you check your balance.
A glaring security hole
So why is this a big deal you ask? Well card cloning and stealing is on the rise due to the increase in use of electronic payments. There have been numerous reports of people losing thousands of dollars to card cloning thieves. The best way to mitigate the issue is to send sms alerts for every transaction. This will mean that an account holder can quickly get in touch with their bank and stop the haemorrhage at the first sign of an unauthorised transaction.
With the FBC set up a thief will have all the time in the world to clean your account without you ever being aware. That is unless you are psychic or paranoid enough to check your balance on a regular basis. In the last case the costs pile up to such an extent where the FBC Mobile Moola account ends up costing more than a regular account!
FBC can find a compromise
It doesn’t cost much to send an SMS and FBC can still charge customers say extra $0.10 to send out balance information after each payment. That way they will still make money without compromising on customers’ security. I don’t think customers would mind that extra charge. I know I would appreciate the added security.
NB As far as I know this only affects the Mobile Moola Account and not other FBC accounts. Their FBC MasterCard now has a flawless sms alert that follows every payment.
In case you haven’t bought it already, buy the Techzim Insights report on the state of the payments sector in Zimbabwe for only $9.99 via Ecocash below:
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