Mass SIM disconnection triggers upsurge in new SIM acquisition, affects new MoMo wallets

sim cards
sim cards

The recent mass service disconnection from unregistered and partially registered SIM cards has reportedly triggered an upsurge in the acquisition of new SIM cards across the country, but it is also creating problems for some mobile money wallets.

Various SIM card vendors across the country confirmed to Techfocus24 via WhatsApp that a lot of the people whose SIM cards were affected by the June 1, 2023 disconnection of call, SMS, data and mobile money services, have resorted to the acquisition of completely new SIM cards instead of reactivating the old ones.

Several of the vendors confirmed they have seen an upsurge in SIM card sales except that they don’t keep records to know the exact numbers. But at least one said between January and May, his highest sales was in January – 115 SIM cards, and the lowest was in May – 63. However, just after the disconnection of service in June, sales shot up to 197 that month alone.

At least one telco executive also confirmed to Techfocus24 that the first ten days of June saw a sharp upsurge in SIM card sales on their network, following the service disconnection, but sales have since returned to pre-connection levels.

Quite a number of the people buying new SIM cards now had their previous SIM cards fraudulently linked to the Ghana Cards of other people without the consent of the card owners. So, there is no way they can go back and complete the registration of those SIM cards since the credentials on the cards belong to other persons.

MoMo Wallet Status issues 

Mobile Money

Meanwhile, one vendor, Melvin James Amponsah of Melvin-J Ventures, told Techfocus24 that the new acquisitions have created a new challenge with mobile money wallet statuses and that is affecting a lot of small business owners in communities outside of Accra in particular.

According to him, prior to the new ongoing SIM registration process, merchants registered mobile money wallets separately with MPOS devices only, and the entry point for every wallet, particularly on MTN MoMo, was medium KYC level, which allows the wallet holder to transact up to GHS10,000 a day and unlimited amounts per month.

But now, every new SIM card registered via the National Communications Authority’s app or common platform (CP) is automatically registered for mobile money at the minimum KYC (know your customer) level, which has a limit of GHS2,000 a day and GHS6,000 for the whole month.

Melvin Amponsah said, a lot of market women and traders at Kajaji in the Sene East  District of the Bono East Region, where he operates, had wallets with medium level status, but now their wallet statuses have been reduced to minimum level and it is really affecting their businesses since they can’t transact enough money in a day like they used to.

The other challenge, according to the merchant, is that the documents MTN requires for one to upgrade their wallet to the medium level are not easy for most of the market women to come by.

He said MTN requires either a tenancy agreement or utility bill with the customer’s name on it, or a bank account bearing the customer’s residential or postal address.

”A lot of these traders do not have utility bills and tenancy agreements in their names, and most of them save with rural and community banks which often allow people to open accounts even without proper postal or street addresses – so it has become difficult for them to meet the requirements for the upgrade,” he said.

Melvin Amponsah narrated how one trader in his community who had GHS10,000 on her wallet, could not make a payment of GHS7,000 because her wallet status has been reduced to minimum since she registered a new SIM card on her name.

He said that trader is unable to meet the requirement for a wallet upgrade and she was about to miss an important business opportunity, so “she practically shed tears on me and I had to support her with my own money to enable her close that deal.”

According to Melvin Amponsah, he has reported the matter to MTN over a month now, and made suggestions that mobile money wallet registration should be decoupled from the ongoing SIM registration, so that the merchants can continue to use the MPOS to register wallets at the medium level for starters, but he has not received any response from MTN.

MML Response

Techfocus24 reached out to MobileMoney Limited (MML – MTN MoMo) and the Snr. Manager, Manager Compliance and AML, Godwin Tamakloe had some explanation for customers on the issues raised.

According to them, the decision to register new wallets with minimum KYC was based on a directive by the industry regulator, Bank of Ghana (BoG) to drive financial inclusion, particularly for those who do not have what it takes to meet the requirement for medium level wallets. The minimum KYC is the same as what is required for SIM registration: Name, date of birth and residential address.

“MobileMoney is compliant with the regulator’s directive to give other segments of the customer base who cannot meet the requirement for the medium wallet, to also have a minimum wallet and be in the position to access our service. All in the interest of driving Financial inclusion,” Godwin Tamakloe, Snr. Manager, Compliance and AML at MML said. 

Meanwhile, he explained that the requirement for an upgrade from Minimum to Medium level wallet, does not include tenancy agreement, utility bills and bank accounts as the merchant claimed. It rather include the customer’s  source of funds, details of Next-of-Kin (the one to inherit him or her), place of birth and occupation. 

Godwin Tamakloe said it is rather an upgrade to Enhanced level wallet which requires just one additional detail – proof of address using just one of the following documents: Utility bill (water/electricity etc.) or Registered tenancy agreement or Income tax certificate or Bank statement or Employer’s reference letter.

He also stated that the use of the MPOS for registrations into the medium wallet is still available, adding “We have also made available the opportunity to upgrade at any point in time.”

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