Big development in Vodacom airtime theft case

One of Vodacom’s main partners, Mondia Media, has been suspended for airtime theft but continues to do business with the mobile operator.

Mondia Media is a content service provider which offers a “host of products for companies wanting to offer content”.

An industry player recently provided MyBroadband with information that Vodacom partners with Mondia Media for a wide range of WASP services.

As part of this agreement, Vodacom shares personal information of its subscribers with Mondia Media.

Vodacom also transfers personal information of its subscribers to Mondia Media which stores this data on its servers.

What concerned the industry player is that Mondia Media has been accused of fraudulent subscriptions and airtime theft.

He further provided MyBroadband with information that former Vodacom managers were working for Mondia Media.

With the widespread fraud and airtime theft on Vodacom’s network, he questioned why the mobile operator would not see this as a risk.

MyBroadband asked Vodacom about its relationship with Mondia Media, and it confirmed it has two commercial agreements with Mondia Media.

The first agreement is as a technology and platform supplier and the other as a third-party content and Direct Charge to Bill (DCB) service provider.

Vodacom said Mondia Media has been suspended in their capacity as a DCB partner because of airtime theft allegations.

“We are currently conducting an investigation in this regard. We are unable to share any further details on the matter at this stage,” a Vodacom spokesperson told MyBroadband.

Commenting on former Vodacom managers working for Mondia Media, Vodacom said to the best of its knowledge, this is not the case.

However, a simple Google search shows many former Vodacom employees working for Mondia Media.

Mondia Media continues to do business with Vodacom

While Mondia Media has been suspended as a DCB partner, Vodacom continues to do business with the company as a technology and platform supplier.

What is concerning is that Vodacom continues to share the personal information of its subscribers with Mondia Media.

MyBroadband asked Vodacom why it continues to partner with a company accused of airtime theft, and it explained that stopping this relationship is not trivial.

“Immediately suspending the technology and platform supplier services provided by Mondia Media will be disruptive to customers that are reliant on some of our platforms,” Vodacom said.

“We have suspended Mondia Media in their capacity as a DCB partner. We are unable to share any further details on the matter given the ongoing investigation. Once this process runs its course, we will take appropriate measures.”

Mondia Media responds

Mondia Media provided MyBroadband with a comprehensive response, provided in full below, related to the issues mentioned in the article.

With reference to the article published by MyBroadband on 2nd September 2020, Mondia confirms that in its partnership with Vodacom for DCB (“Direct Carrier Billing”) services, Mondia is solely responsible for the collection of payment via DCB on behalf of the merchant.

The acquisition of Vodacom customers for any of the subscribed services involved is managed by the merchants themselves and not Mondia.

Mondia can confirm that it is one of multiple DCB service providers that have been temporarily suspended. Mondia is co-operating with its partner Vodacom in the investigation of alleged irregular transactions and subscriptions related to DCB traffic by various merchants.

Any customer complaint of this nature follows a standard process of investigation. Affected parties are refunded in line with industry practices and appropriate action is taken against non-compliant merchants. Mondia takes a strong stance against any unlawful or irregular conduct and denies any allegations of fraud or theft.

As an industry leader with a global footprint, Mondia is committed to ensuring fairness and transparency in the services it provides to its telco customers and their subscribers.

Mondia follows strict data protection protocols and industry practices including GDPR compliance. Mondia attracts talent from across multiple industry players including mobile operators in South Africa but can confirm that it does not employ any current executives who were previously employed by Vodacom.

With regards to subscription of services offered directly by Mondia, we operate in a strict double opt-in policy.

Mondia remains committed to the transparent and comprehensive investigation with the knowledge that the suspension of its DCB service will be uplifted.

Mondia Media billing

The Vodacom accounts below show airtime billing from users who said they have never subscribed to any Mondia Media services.

The last screenshot comes from a machine-to-machine SIM where proactively subscribing to a content service is not possible.

Now read: Damning evidence about mass airtime theft from Vodacom subscribers

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Big development in Vodacom airtime theft case