BUSI­NESS SMS alert helps to keep cus­tomers in the loop about debit or­der abuse

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - JAN CRONJE

FIRST Na­tional Bank has re­ported a “very pos­i­tive re­sponse” to its debit or­der alert sys­tem in­tro­duced last month, which no­ti­fies cus­tomers of new debit or­ders on their ac­counts via SMS.

Debit or­der abuse has long been a headache for South Africans, who risk hav­ing money taken from their ac­counts with­out their per­mis­sion. The alert sys­tem al­lows cus­tomers to dis­pute and re­verse debit or­ders by re­ply­ing to the SMS, or by log­ging on to one of the bank’s dig­i­tal plat­forms.

FNB’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of value bank­ing so­lu­tions, Ryan Prozesky, said yes­ter­day most clients used cell­phone bank­ing to dis­pute or­ders.

“This is a very pos­i­tive sign for us, as cell­phone bank­ing is avail­able on all phones,” he said.

An­nounc­ing the ser­vice early last month, Prozesky said it was nec­es­sary be­cause not all cus­tomers reg­u­larly checked bank ac­counts to weed out unau­tho­rised debit or­ders.

“By im­me­di­ately in­form­ing cus­tomers a debit or­der has taken place on their ac­count – as well as the amount and the ser­vice provider name, cus­tomers can quickly act if they per­ceive the trans­ac­tion to be unau­tho­rised,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Wal­ter Volker, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Pay­ments As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa ( Pasa), the coun­try’s pay­ments in­dus­try has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a “no­tice­able in­crease in debit or­der abuse”.

Pasa is an in­de­pen­dent body, recog­nised by the SA Re­serve Bank, that de­vel­ops rules for pay­ments.

It’s mem­bers in­clude Absa, Stan­dard Bank, Capitec, FirstRand, Ned­bank, HSBC and In­vestec, among oth­ers.

“There are many sce­nar­ios where a com­pany pro­cesses debit or­ders to a con­sumer’s bank ac­count with­out a proper or valid man­date, no man­date or with an ex­pired one,” Volker said ear­lier this year.

“In other in­stances, con­sumers re­quest their banks to re­turn debit or­ders which have al­ready been paid.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion said debit or­ders to the value of at least R61 bil­lion were pro­cessed each month in the coun­try, more if early debit or­ders were in­cluded. Pasa, to­gether with the SA Re­serve Bank, is work­ing on a plan called the Au­then­ti­cated Col­lec­tions Project to crack down on debit or­der fraud and to stream­line pay­ments. The project is sim­i­lar, but sep­a­rate from that in­tro­duced by FNB.

It will re­quest cus­tomers to elec­tron­i­cally con­firm with their bank that new debit or­ders are le­git­i­mate be­fore they are pro­cessed. The project is set to be rolled out in stages start­ing later this year.

jan.cronje@inl.co.za

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