Safaricom now wants to hide customer contact details from merchants to protect their privacy

While MPESA service may be deemed as revolutionary in the financial sector, the service has had it’s own fair amount of challenges, especially when it comes to protecting customer details. Currently, when a customer transacts through any of the MPESA merchant services such as Lipa na MPESA or using a Till number, their contact details are shared with the merchant who then can proceed to share these details with any other third party such as customer feedback firms.

These third parties range from genuine firms such as customer feedback firms to those with ill motives who may decide to enroll customers to various services such as for political use. To counter these activities, Safaricom is now looking to hide contact details of MPESA users from merchants altogether. The mobile service provider intents to achieve this by hiding inner digits of the transacting phone number.

According to the information we have, Safaricom will unveil this functionality to prevent various merchants from sharing customer contact details with fraudsters or advertisers. Instead of showing the entire phone number to merchants who use Lipa na MPESA, the telco will only show the first and last few digits effectively making them useless to third parties.

This is the same way most banks in the country operate, they don’t just give out full customer details when they pay for goods or services using their platforms. As of now, Kenyans have increasingly been facing so many unsolicited advertising text messages. It’s believed that some merchants share contact details with third parties who then proceed to enroll customers to various advertising services.

With the introduction of data protection law, merchants are not allowed to share customer details without their consent, but they do so anyway. According to a recent survey done by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY), 41 percent of firms transferred their clients’ data to third-party service providers.

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