(first published June 16, 2019)
With the frequency at which bank frauds have been reported in recent times here in Africa, you’d be forgiven if the most recent bank account hacking news fell off your radar, only this time it represents a much more ominous future for Africa’s banking systems as currently practiced. Earlier this week, news circulated about how operatives of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) at Ladipo (Lagos, Nigeria)arrested one Dare Oladimeji who allegedly hacks telephones in order to gain illegal access to his victim’s bank accounts. At first, this seemed like a run off the mill hack but what was really unsettling about the incident is the consummate ease with which the suspect claimed to have carried out his attacks. He is quoted to have said,
‘Nobody taught me the skill. It’s just common sense’.
Just common sense? Only not so long ago in Nigeria, hacking into bank accounts was believed to be a financial crime only executable by people with high intellectual bandwidth considering the level of technicality and precision planning such a heist would involve. If this incident is anything to go by, apparently perpetrating such attack now is as easy as slotting a sim card in a telephone and punching a few codes on the keypad. You’d also be grossly amiss if you imagine that the growing security quagmire is the only malady bedeviling traditional banking institutions today. Lack of transparency, exorbitant charges, and government control — all of these have conspired against traditional banks to signpost what many already know — Traditional Banks in this digital era are no longer the safe haven they were once touted to be. Maybe they never were and a long look at the practices that underpin their operations will verify just that. Banking platforms today are digital, typically running on Java, Python, or any other such language with transactions executed and authorized by humans.
Time and time again it’s been demonstrably ascertained that platforms and software that run on these programming languages and scripts are susceptible to different brute force attacks, MITM attacks, mobile banking Trojan attacks and even sim swapping attacks. These are reasons enough to boycott banks at least until they evolve. Add the fact that banks need humans (bank personnel) to operate their platform and what you see is a financial institution that is embarrassingly flawed and outdated. Can you really trust bank personnel not to make mistakes or be driven to greed and selfishness? Of course, these all seem like a catch 22. You need banks for its services. But Banks can’t be trusted. Also, Banks need humans (personnel) to operate. But Humans can’t be trusted.
So what’s the solution? It’s time for Africa to look beyond traditional banking systems and devise creative solutions more apt to the times we live. Thankfully the world has found just the right answer. Even if you live under a rock, odds are, you’ve heard about Bitcoin. What many are unaware of, is its underlying technology. More than just a buzz word, Bitcoin is one of many cryptocurrencies based on the blockchain technology, one that will shape and evolve the way transactions will be executed in the future — a future that is here already. Whilst it is true that governments have repeatedly discredited bitcoin/cryptocurrency albeit, without any substantive arguments, this is nothing more than a wolf howling at the moon. The technology cannot be stopped and will continue to disrupt many sectors. Discerning ones see beyond the noise and acknowledge that the true reason governments hate and continue to troll cryptocurrency and its adopters is far from any altruistic concerns for its citizenry. For decades, governments have used banks as a cash cow and a mechanism to control their citizens. If blockchain tech and cryptocurrency go mainstream, it will liberate people from the hegemony of government and corporations.
Blockchain technology is really that powerful and is the flag bearer/pillar of the fourth industrial revolution. This nascent technology provides a decentralized and trustless system for managing assets and property. A blockchain functions as an open decentralized ledger that effectively keep tracks of the transaction between two parties in a permanent, verifiable and hack-proof way. People can now actually own their money instead of giving it to a central authority that you need to trust to make all the right decisions. In the end, the blockchain based platform will replace banking institutions and return power to the hands of everyday people — you and I. Bitcoin and its underlying tech are more than just hype at this point. Global adoption is now a function of ‘when’ not ‘if’. Even top Companies such as Tesla, Microsoft, Wikipedia, Overstock, and Benfica (the sports club) now accept cryptocurrencies as payment for their services. Blockchain will ensure a fast and secure transaction, reduce transaction cost, provide borderless transaction settlement, be independent of centralized service providers like central banks and will be a shield against economic uncertainties. The latter reason especially hits home for Africans due to its economically and politically unstable climates.
Africa still has the largest population of unbanked adults in the world, a factor which makes it a fertile ground for crypto adoption. Many are now turning to blockchain based solutions for their banking needs. But at the very core of crypto adoption is education. Interestingly one of the top crypto — hybrid platforms of the world -KuBitX, caters for this urgent need and with a special interest in the African market. On KuBitX PROW (Payments Remittances and OTC Wallet) you can learn about blockchain and cryptocurrency while you earn at the same time (incentivized learning). KuBiTX hybrid crypto-fiat payment platform avails you the opportunity to pay your bills on the PROW App using KBX tokens, enjoy cash back rewards at merchant stores, experience fast crypto to fiat exchange, and you also stand a chance to win cash, tokens, vouchers, and products from African businesses and merchants.