South African consumers are perpetually concerned about disappearing mobile airtime and data, which can be caused by a number of factors.
Typically, smartphone users just don’t know how their data is being used, and legitimate consumption by background applications is often perceived as “disappearing data”.
One situation which is far from imaginary, however, is when a rogue WASP or fraudulent subscription service signs up a mobile user and starts deducting airtime on a daily basis.
To address this issue for its customers, MTN recently announced it is now compulsory for all WASPs which operate on its network to subscribe to an industry-approved anti-fraud software solution.
MTN executive Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband the reason for the requirement is that the mobile industry has been hit by malware and “click-jacking” attacks.
The move has been welcomed by WASPA – the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association – whose Management Committee Chairman Anthony Ekerold told MyBroadband the requirement is in line with its code of conduct.
WASPA members are required to implement an anti-fraud solution on their systems across all networks, he said.
Ekerold stated that the move to a network-required anti-fraud solution will help combat “the lion’s share” of fraud experienced by local cellphone users, which stems from malware inadvertently being installed on their devices.
“The local mobile sector operates within a wider South African environment that is struggling with crime-related challenges,” said Ekerold.
WASPA is also continually fine-tuning its code of conduct for the local market, and ensures it enforces its provisions.
This is aimed at “ensuring a responsible, well-regulated industry with which the consumer can confidently interact”, said Ekerold.
“WASPA is constantly engaged in discussions with the mobile network operators around moves such as this latest one introduced by MTN.”
“We not only support such moves, but are proactive when it comes to their introduction into the South African mobile industry.”
An often-discussed topic by the mobile industry is the blocking of WASPs by default on networks.
The argument for the move is that if consumers have to opt in to allow WASP services, and then double-opt-in to subscribe to a particular service, this will help prevent fraudulent subscriptions.
Ekerold said that blocking WASPs by default would hugely restrict consumers’ ability to transact in the digital world, however.
“This goes way beyond content. Everything from transport vouchers to admission passes are easily purchased via mobile,” said Ekerold.
“WASPA believes it is consumers themselves who will be most averse to such a move. It would make enjoying mobile value-added content and services, and utilising the mobile device as a transactional convenience, a cumbersome experience – totally at odds with today’s seamless digital world.”