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Tanzania's Banking Sector Battles 84% rise in Digital Fraud in 2023

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louis Buyisiwe

Mar 18, 2024

Cyber security threats in Tanzania

The BoT's report, released in a March 5 circular to financial institutions, highlights a disturbing trend: more than Tsh1.65 billion ($647,000) was illicitly extracted through mobile and internet banking fraud in the October-December period. This represents a sharp uptick from the Tsh901.8 million ($353,600) reported in the preceding quarter, underscoring the growing sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks.  While the year's overall digital fraud figures slightly dipped below the Tsh1.66 billion ($650,980) peak in Q1, the consistent increase in subsequent quarters paints a worrisome picture of the evolving cyber threat landscape.
This image captures the urgent challenge facing Tanzanian institutions: to fortify their defenses against the ever-evolving threat of cyber fraud

In a concerning revelation from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), the final quarter of 2023 saw an unprecedented 84% surge in digital fraud incidents across Tanzania's commercial banks. This dramatic increase has put a spotlight on the escalating cybersecurity threats facing the financial industry and the urgent need for comprehensive countermeasures.

A Stark Rise in Cybercrime

The BoT's report, released in a March 5 circular to financial institutions, highlights a disturbing trend: more than Tsh1.65 billion ($647,000) was illicitly extracted through mobile and internet banking fraud in the October-December period. This represents a sharp uptick from the Tsh901.8 million ($353,600) reported in the preceding quarter, underscoring the growing sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks.

While the year's overall digital fraud figures slightly dipped below the Tsh1.66 billion ($650,980) peak in Q1, the consistent increase in subsequent quarters paints a worrisome picture of the evolving cyber threat landscape.


Diverse Fraud Tactics Uncovered

The analysis delves into the various strategies employed by cybercriminals, noting a 60% rise in ATM card skimming to Tsh159.87 million ($62,700) in Q4. Although the year saw fluctuations in the methods used, the cumulative effect of these digital thefts poses a significant challenge to the financial sector's integrity.


The BoT's Call to Action

The BoT's circular, while not providing comparative data from previous years, serves as a clarion call to Tanzania's financial service providers. The central bank urges heightened vigilance and the adoption of advanced internal controls to mitigate future fraud risks. This proactive stance is crucial in an era where digital transactions are becoming the norm, making robust cybersecurity measures more vital than ever.


Towards a More Secure Financial Future

With nearly Tsh4.9 billion ($1.92 million) lost to digital banking fraud in 2023, accounting for a substantial portion of the total losses in the sector, the message is clear: the fight against cybercrime requires continuous effort and innovation. As the digital frontier expands, so too must the strategies to protect it, ensuring the safety and confidence of Tanzania's banking customers.


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