Absa moving away from SMS and USSD

Absa has started rolling out SureCheck 2.0, its new transaction verification system, to clients who use its mobile app.

“This helps to prevent SIM-swap fraud,” said Absa.

This follows the bank recently informing clients it would upgrade security for its online banking customers.

Where the bank used to send SureCheck requests to your phone using USSD, and SMS before that, it now uses its app to allow you to verify transactions.

This is because USSD and SMS authentication systems are linked to your phone number, making them susceptible to fraudulent SIM swaps.

Increased security

Absa is not the only bank shifting away from authentication mechanisms linked to cellphone numbers. In 2016, FNB released an update for its smartphone app that replaced its SMS-based authentication system.

This is despite South Africa’s mobile operators rolling out systems which let banks check whether a SIM swap has recently taken place on a particular number before authorising a transaction.

Evidence of this came to light recently when Absa and Vodacom were named in two court cases – one where a couple lost R1.3 million, and another where a man was defrauded of R250,000.

According to Absa, clients will not need to re-register to use SureCheck 2.0 and it emphasised that none of their credentials will change.

SureCheck is triggered when clients perform any of the following actions:

  • About to make a payment
  • Create a new beneficiary
  • Set up a recurring payment
  • Add a new operator
  • Change your notification details
  • Update your daily limits

The screenshots below illustrate how SureCheck 2.0 works.

Prompt received on website

Absa SureCheck 2 web prompt

App requires PIN, password, or fingerprint to unlock

Absa App PIN

Verification request pushed to app

Absa App SureCheck 2

Now read: Denying refunds to SIM-swap fraud victims is no-win situation – Absa

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Absa moving away from SMS and USSD