Safaricom is introducing changes to its Lipa na M-Pesa platform expected to boost customer privacy.
Currently, customers making purchases with Lipa na M-Pesa leave data including their full name and phone number in confirmation receipts sent to the merchant. This has opened up a loophole allowing for the sale of data to third-parties or use by merchants for a range of purposes, such as sending unsolicited advertising.
Safaricom has informed merchants that new changes to take effect from the end of June will see customer details hidden. Only a first name and a few digits of the phone number will be displayed.
The telco stated; “At the end of June, phone numbers and full names of subscribers making transactions will no longer be relayed to partners.”
“Only the first name will be passed along and the phone number of the subscriber making the transaction will be masked (obfuscated). For example, if a person named John Doe with a phone number +254(redacted) makes a payment the only data that will be passed along is [John, +2547XXXXX654].”
The efforts come on the back of increasing consumer pressure on data protection. Safaricom remains inundated by complaints from Kenyans concerned about the sheer volume of unsolicited advertising text messages they receive everyday – including from some not-so-savoury businesses.
“Safaricom and its partners are required to take action to minimise the use and transfer of sensitive data such as names and phone numbers during the processing of transactions,” the firm noted highlighting the Data Protection Act 2019.
Lipa na M-Pesa remains the dominant mobile payments platform used by businesses in Kenya. There are over 387,000 merchants using the platform.
The M-Pesa mobile money platform it is integrated into has over 30 million active users in Kenya.
Notably, Safaricom in April rolled out interoperability for Lipa na M-Pesa opening it up to Airtel and Telkom subscribers. Interoperability has been a key concern on mobile money for regulators including the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).