Disgruntled mobile money agents fume over suspension of accounts

Scores of mobile money agents have questioned the motive of telecoms giant MTN Ghana in withholding their ‘operating cash’ for a month – over some perceived illegal transactions since the rolling-out of ID card verification for mobile money (MoMo) transactions.

According to some of the agents who picketed in front of the Nhyieaso office of MTN Ghana in Kumasi, the decision is unfair and more than likely to run their businesses down. They therefore demanded to be given access to their operating capital.

An agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he received a text message, just like the others, indicating that his merchant SIM card has been blocked and asking him to visit the nearest MTN branch for assistance.

He said it was on his visit to MTN’s main office in Kumasi that he was informed the suspension of account was due to some ‘illegal transactions’ believed to have taken place on his account.

Some of the affected agents on the forecourt of MTN office at Nhyieaso

He however denied this explanation from MTN officials, indicating that he has complied with all the requirements. But his fear is that he is being penalised for accepting new voters’ ID cards for transactions instead of insisting on the old voters’ ID cards which were used for the registration.

This situation, he said, will hinder his ability to pay the monthly rent for his shop, as well as the person he has employed to operate the business.

These developments come 11 days after MTN Ghana rolled out the ID card verification for mobile money transactions. The move, among others, was intended to ensure that customers present IDs – and by doing so empower mobile money agents to validate their transactions.

MTN Ghana had said all ID card types were permissible ahead of implementing the new ID card for MoMo verification.

In an update on post-implementation challenges, the CEO of Mobile Money Limited, Eli Hini, said affected merchants have not complied with the latest directive – based on the backend validation report that has been compiled.

He said the noncompliance led to suspension of wallets for 7,500 agents, “pending further engagement to ensure that they are willing and committed to the directive”. He added that they will be given a second chance; but when that is also abused, these affected merchants will be blacklisted.

Mr. Hini however noted that, since some agents have indicated they would like to access their accounts, a window of opportunity will be given to those people. “We will proceed to unsuspend the accounts of those agents who want to access their funds to do so between now and the end of Thursday, and after that we will proceed with the process of reengagement and readmission of those who want to commit to the directive,” he said.

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