Bank of Tanzania warns of sharp rise in digital theft

Sunday March 17 2024

Side view of hacker using computer with digital interface while sitting at desk of blurry interior. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


Digital fraud from Tanzania’s commercial banks increased by a whopping 84 percent in the last three months of 2023 (October-December) compared with July-September, the central bank has disclosed.

The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) said in a March 5 circular to commercial banks, financial institutions and payment system service providers that more than Tsh1.65 billion ($647,000) was siphoned through mobile and internet banking fraud, including cyber-attacks, during the fourth quarter of the year, a sharp increase from Tsh901.8 million ($353,600) in Q3.

The figure was below Tsh1.66 billion ($650,980) recorded in the first quarter of the year but highlighted a steady rise in online fraud over the next three quarters after dropping to Tsh674.06 million ($264,340) in Q2.

Read: Cybersecurity: Rise of the enemy within

Theft from automated teller machine card skimming also went up 60 percent to Tsh159.87 million ($62,700) in Q4, compared with Tsh99.64 million ($39,100) in Q3, although nowhere near theTsh424.16 million ($166,340) in Q2.

But Q4 registered the lowest value of theft through forged cheques and the Tanzania Interbank Settlement System for the year at Tsh11.3 million ($4,430) against Tsh34 million ($13,330), Tsh954.59 million ($374,350) and Tsh20.9 million ($8,200) for Q1, Q2 and Q3 respectively.


In total, just under Tsh4.9 billion ($1.92 million) was stolen through online and digital banking fraud in Tanzania in 2023, making up almost half (47.6 percent) of the Tsh10.3 billion ($4.04 million) losses incurred by Tanzanian banks through theft.

In its March 5 notice, BoT’s Directorate of Financial Sector Supervision did not give comparative figures for 2022 and previous years, but called on domestic financial service providers to be particularly vigilant in unearthing and reporting such fraud incidences as they occur going forward.

“We expect them to use this feedback to improve their internal controls in order to minimise future losses due to fraud,” it said.