AA - March 2022

Author:  Theuns du Buisson
Economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI)2
24 March 202

‘Perfect storm’ to hit finances in South Africa from this week

Rising inflation, interest rate hikes and higher fuel prices point to a ‘perfect storm’ of factors that are set to hit South African consumers from this week, says labour union Solidarity.

The group was commenting on Statistics South Africa’s latest inflation figures which indicate a 5.7% increase in the consumer price index (CPI).

The South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee is largely expected to hike interest rates on Thursday afternoon (24 March), with steep petrol and diesel hikes pencilled in from the start of April.

Solidarity warned consumers cannot keep up with all the price increases they have to carry – and more pressure on South Africans would have disastrous consequences. It added that the salaries of most people have been adjusted at the beginning of the year.

“Thus, the sky-high inflation we are currently experiencing has not been included in such adjustments,” said Theuns du Buisson, economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI)

“Moreover, fuel price inflation of 29.4% is much higher than general inflation. Employees are struggling to make ends meet as they are simply losing more and more buying power every month. Even after increases salaries just cannot keep up with inflation and you have to buy less and less, even if you are earning a little more.”

To address these issues Solidarity is calling for fuel prices to be deregulated in their entirety and set by the market.

“Virtually all the major price increases in the latest CPI release occur among the regulated administrative prices, which rose by a shocking 16,7% over against general inflation of 5,7%.

“In short, where the government is involved, it is to total detriment of everyone. Breaking the government’s stranglehold on the economy is no longer something that is merely desirable but has become imperative. The government’s incompetence has now indeed become unaffordable,” Du Buisson said.

Solidarity also appealed to the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) not to raise interest rates in the announcement this week. According to Solidarity, South Africa’s economic predicament can be attributed to fiscal and regulatory policy rather than to relatively low-interest rates.

“At the moment, consumers are facing the perfect storm that is having an extremely negative impact on their budgets. This must be stopped in its tracks immediately, the deregulation of all fuel prices, as well as an unchanged or even lower interest rate being a good starting point,” Du Buisson said.

The original article can be viewed here:

Author:  Staff Writer
24 March 2022

Major phone and SIM-card change planned for South Africa – what you should know

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has proposed tying the biometric data of South Africans to their SIM cards in a move to clamp down on fraudulent activity.

The proposals are included alongside other draft regulations which were published for public comment by the regulator on Wednesday (23 March).

The regulations define biometric data as the “measurement and statistical analysis of people’s unique physical and behavioural characteristics”.

In practice, this means that fingerprint mapping, facial recognition, retina scans and biometric data could all be tied to a person’s SIM card – and by extension their phone number – going forward.

“On activation of a mobile number on its network, a licensee must ensure that it collects and links the biometric data of the subscriber to the number. A licensee must ensure that, at all times, it has the current biometric data of an assigned mobile number,” the regulator said.

This change will not apply to ‘juristic persons’ such as companies and the biometric data collected must be used for the sole purpose of authentication of a user assigned a mobile number, the regulator said.

If a subscriber requests a SIM swap, the mobile network must ensure that the biometric data of the user requesting the SIM swap corresponds with the biometric data associated with the mobile number.

If the biometric data does not correspond with the biometric data associated with the mobile number, the SIM swap must be declined.

Icasa explained it was introducing these tougher security measures due to ongoing concerns wherein mobile numbers have been hijacked either through a porting and/or SIM swap transaction.

“The hijacking of mobile numbers is a small but integral part of a wider form of fraud where sensitive data is diverted or comes in the control of criminal elements.

“The authority is of the view that the association of mobile numbers with the biometric data of a subscriber will assist to curb the hijacking of assigned subscriber mobile numbers.”

It added that there are several jurisdictions that have linked mobile numbers with biometric data of subscribers thus this form of authentication is in practice and is a possible remedy to ensure that subscribers do not lose control of their assigned mobile numbers.

Fraud is an ongoing problem

The latest South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) figures from November 2021 shows SIM-swap incidents increased 91% year on year when looking at digital banking fraud across all platforms.

“The most important thing to recognise is that SIM swaps have a very important part to play in the mobile network industry,” said Lincoln Naicker, product owner at Entersekt, a provider of strong device identity and customer authentication software.

“Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) sit at the centre of an extended ecosystem and impacts many other sectors, not least of all the financial ones. And, although there has been a seismic shift in the technology in mobile apps and other digital channels, the SIM has remained fairly unchanged.”

Naicker has previously raised the possibility of using biometrics as part of the onboarding process to cut down on fraud. Data from the GSMA shows just 8% of countries globally have some biometric enforcement policy in place.

“We need greater cooperation between the mobile network operators when it comes to onboarding. The verification process should be augmented using other technologies such as voice biometrics. If all players could agree on better security at this early stage, we would already have made progress,” he said

The original article can be viewed here: