GSMA tokenisation drive improves women’s digital safety


GSMA Head of Financial Inclusion and AgriTech, Ashley Olson Onyango

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – GSM Association, the industry organisation representing interests of mobile network operators worldwide, is exploring ways in which tokenisation of mobile phone numbers can improve security for women.

It can protect customers more broadly.

GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab is collaborating with GSMA Connected Women and MTN Ghana in the exercise.

Tokenisation is a technology in which a sensitive data element is substituted by a non-sensitive equivalent, referred to as a token, that has no exploitable meaning or value.

Additionally, this can assist to ensure that users feel secure when accessing mobile money services.

This mobile tokenisation solution has been developed to improve safety and security for women who are using their mobile money accounts and performing a payment at a merchant location.

It is an example how a user’s sensitive data, such as a phone number, can be replaced with a token – a non-sensitive, context-restricted number.

The customer can request a token at any time over SMS or USSD.

Using the token number, the customer has access to a variety of mobile money services, avoiding the disclosure of their mobile phone number. On the other side, the agent does not need to do anything different.

The phone number field can be filled with the token number and the transaction will proceed normally.

Ashley Olson Onyango, GSMA Head of Financial Inclusion and AgriTech, said the solution was created with a user-first mindset, aiming to keep the interaction intuitive and with changes that do not impact processes users are accustomed to.

“With the target user group in mind, this is key to accommodate users’ digital skills and existing behaviours with minimal disruption,” she said.

The solution requires minimal changes to the operator’s current platform.

This is because the token can have the same format as the current mobile number.

Onyango said tokenisation was vital in that providers consider women’s mobile-related safety concerns in lower middle- income countries to enable access to basic services and provide opportunities for the personal and economic growth of women.

The GSMA initiative follows the realisation that while access to mobile phones can help women feel safer, they can also be a conduit for threats.

This highlights the inconsistent relationship between mobile technology and women’s safety.

“Such inconsistencies can act as a barrier to access and usage; limiting a women’s use or ownership of a mobile phone altogether,” Onyango said.

– CAJ News


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