FOR some time now, the nation has awakened to regular reports of attacks on mobile money agents around the country.
The attacks have mostly been about criminal minded people targeting the agents’ daily cash accumulation from mobile money transactions.
In other instances, the agents have become victims of sexual violence at the hands of perverted individuals who get off by inflicting pain on others.
Who can forget the story of Pamela Chisumpa, who was abducted from her booth on Cairo Road and disappeared for months?
Or the 17-year-old girl from Kamitondo Township in Kitwe who went missing, apparently abducted by a previous employer in the mobile money business.
These were only signs of an even bigger problem to come and as a society and especially those charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizenry, should have began to take steps to arrest the situation.
It is not at all surprising that we are now reading of attacks on mobile money agents in their homes.
The latest attack is on a 26-year-old female mobile money vendor, shot dead by bandits in Nakonde before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of money.
What is even more frightening is the revelation that the attack is among many similar incidents reported in Muchinga Province, which has rightly sent fear into many residents in the area.
Mobile money services have become an important part of the banking sector due to various benefits to users. But this has also created other problems.
To put the significance of the mobile money impact into perspective, let us consider last year’s report on the matter.
A report released earlier this year said the adoption of mobile money in Zambia caused an increase in subscriptions from 9.8 million in 2021 to 11.2 million subscribers in 2022, representing a growth rate of 13.98 per cent.
In this period, the value of mobile money transactions increased significantly from ZMW 169.4 billion recorded at the end of 2021 to ZMW 295.8 billion at the end of 2022, reflecting an increase of 74.63 per cent.
Similarly, ZICTA noted, the volume of mobile money transactions increased from 834 million transactions at the end of 2021 to 1,581 million transactions at the end of 2022, reflecting an improvement of 89.60 per cent.
A huge amount of those transactions are handled by small mobile money agents across the country and in some instances, they transact in huge amounts of money.
Here then lies the problem because criminals have also noted that these individual agents now handle huge amounts of money that have now.
This is so because many agents operate till late in the evening, long after any banking facility is closed and as such are forced to keep huge amounts of money in their homes or offices.
There has to be a deliberate option set up by mobile money companies to ensure that their agents secure this money and not risk their lives.
Agents should also be security conscious and avoid keeping excess cash in their possession.
Ultimately, the Police should ensure that communities are protected from criminal elements intent on causing havoc and harming citizens.
Proper police presence goes a long way in discouraging criminal activity in any society.