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PAFON 1.0: Experts Underscore The Need For Stricter Data Privacy Measures In Payments Ecosystem In AI Era

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  • Tasks Payments System Operators On The Need For Consumer Education

By Kingsley I. Ilechukwu, Bureau Chief, South West

The Chairman of the Committee of Chief Information Security Officers of Nigerian Financial Institutions (CCISONFI), Festus Amede, has identified Data Minimization Principles, User Consent and Control, as well as Compliance with Privacy Regulations as important elements in protecting privacy in payments.

Cyber Era NG learns that Amede, who was represented by an executive member of CCISONFI, Olusola Odediran (also, the Chief Information Security Officer) Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), spoke during his keynote presentation at the maiden edition of Payments Forum Nigeria (PAFON 1.0) held at Oriental Hotel, Lagos, south west, Nigeria,  on Thursday.

His presentation themed, ‘Payments: Trust, Security and Privacy in the AI Era,’ explored the critical aspects of trust, security, and privacy in payments, and provided insights into the challenges, solutions, and future trends in safeguarding transactions in the digital landscape.

The CCISONFI chairman stated that although the payment industry enjoys such regulatory oversights arising from the Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA) and Data protection laws, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and the compliance requirements for businesses, the industry has balanced security and convenience relying on user experience in payment security, seamless authentication methods, and biometric and tokenized payments.

On how emerging Technologies will impact the payment industry, he disclosed that while Blockchain will be deployed to ensure secure transactions, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will be used in fraud prevention even as privacy-preserving computing impact cannot be underestimated.

Amede called on players in the payment industry to continue to educate consumers by providing them with tips on how to secure online payments, how to recognise phishing attempts, and the importance of keeping software updated.

He listed some of the best practices for businesses including regular security audits and penetration testing; employee training on security protocols; and ensuring collaboration with payment security experts.

Speaking further on the need to build trust in payment systems, Amede, who is also the CISO of Zenith Bank Plc emphasised the importance of trust for consumer adoption, transparency in transactions, and commitment to securing the payment infrastructure.

He stated that the Payment Systems are exposed to such threats and vulnerabilities as Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches, Phishing and Social Engineering, and malware and ransomware.

The chief compliance officer, Ikenna Ndugbu represented by the regional sales Manager, Moniepoint, Isoken Aigbomian highlighted the evolution of Moniepoint into a leading payment processor, stating, “We started off with a virtual account service where we automated payments or transfers, allowing customers and businesses to make and receive payments seamlessly through transfers. This was what catapulted and was modified into the limelight and household name that seems to be.”

Aigbomian emphasized the company’s focus on providing flexible payment options to businesses across various sectors, stating, “Today, Moniepoint offers a wide variety of payment options to businesses. There is an online payment platform, in-person payments option and then there are the cash payments via our ATM network, which is almost, I think, one of the largest, as well.”

She explained how Moniepoint MFB identified the need for a seamless payment experience and developed innovative solutions to address it. “So, what we did was we looked inward, and we said the most popular means of payment in Nigeria is transfer. So we worked with our engineers and were able to build an infrastructure.”

The founder of Payble, Roosevelt Elias noted the importance of data privacy and security in the age of digital payments, stating, “It is essential to preserve the details of such trusted transactions, as they often hold significant importance for the company’s outcomes and operations.”

He endorsed cautious use of data and highlighted the need for AI encryption and compliance-based companies to protect user privacy and ensure regulatory compliance.

On the other hand, sales director at inq. Digital Nigeria Limited, Peter Evbota spoke on artificial intelligence (AI) and its ability to transform sectors, particularly in data analytics and security.

He emphasized the power of AI in processing both structured and unstructured data, highlighting its ability to detect patterns and provide valuable insights.

Earlier in his welcome address, co-founder of TechCastle Foundation, organisers of the event, Chike Onwuegbuchi while giving insight into why the forum was berthed, said payments are very critical in the economy of every country including Nigeria.

“Last year, before the elections, we witnessed what Nigerians faced in the payments system- ATMs were not working to dispense cash, and at merchant locations, it was difficult to make payments with banks’ PoS thanks to Moniepoint and few others that came to the rescue,” he said.

Onwuegbuchi noted that there had been issues of declined transactions and customers’ accounts debited, in addition to an existing systemic fraud, misinformation and lack of information that have led to customers losing their money to fraudsters.

“After looking at these issues and many more, we at TechCastle Foundation decided to create a platform where stakeholders could discuss these issues with the objective of making our Payments systems better,” he said.

He stated that the essence of the forum was to make the ecosystem better for every Nigerian as operators, regulators and end users are expected to discuss to find a way to make the system better.

He added that trust issues in payments, security and other industry-related issues were to be discussed at the forum by cybersecurity experts who have distinguished themselves in working with money deposit banks to ensure that cybercriminals didn’t steal money in the bank.

The inaugural edition of the Payments Forum Nigeria was a cross-industry platform that focused on addressing issues that require broad cooperation and coordination across many constituents in the payments industry.

PAFON 1.0, sponsored by Moniepoint, Digital Encode Limited, Cybervergent, inq.Digital and Payble with support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), provided participants with an inside look at the Payments industry, offering perspectives from key stakeholders, including payment networks, technology innovators, leading merchants, issuers, acquirers, and payment processors.

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