New app sounds the death knell for con artists
Posted Wednesday, August 15 2012 at 18:05
- The application is a verification tool that can be accessed online, through WAP or GPRS-enabled phones. It went live three months ago.
- It can be used to ascertain the authenticity of documents, certificates, and title deeds.
- It works by sharing data with State agencies like the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya National Examinations Council.
- The new application will reduce the security threats that accompany business transactions and make it easier for users to make informed and secure financial decisions.
- The system is free to download as an Android application and can also be accessed online. However, to make a verification enquiry will cost the user Sh600 which is payable through M-Pesa or Airtel Money.
One of the greatest concerns for most people across the world when carrying out large financial transactions is whether the deal is genuine or one party is a con.
For Kenyans, verifying documents when buying a vehicle or land is a nightmare. Part of the reason is the growing interest in such assets, leading to the thriving of dubious agents.
Because cons have become more sophisticated and hard to single out from the well-dressed and educated, signing on the dotted line has become a nail-biting event that go in tandem with second-guessing.
However, this window may soon be closing and shutting out architects of these deals associated with the underworld. Two young software developers have created M-verified, “a simple” application that promises to lessen the anxiety.
M-verified enables users to ascertain the authenticity of documents used in such deals, including title deeds, logbooks and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
“The application is simple and it can be accessed either through an online portal, WAP or GPRS-enabled phones or simply as a mobile application,” explains Samuel Kamau, one of the developers.
“When, for example, scouting for a car to buy, the potential seller provides a licence plate and chassis numbers. Using these unique figures as identifiers, you key them in and the system immediately identifies the person under whose name the vehicle is registered.”
Since these numbers are unique, the user will be able to get the true owner(s) of the vehicle, showing details as registered at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The developers, through their company, Mobilab, have signed a data-sharing deal with the taxman to link the application to KRA’s database.
At all times, taxpayers’ confidential details remain secret even to users of the application.
“We do not have the entire KRA database at our disposal since most of the data is confidential. Our agreement with KRA allows us to embed a script to their system through which we leverage our portal,” explained Mr Kamau. The script allows them to see data upon imputing specific queries.
Mr Kamau says the system uses both the vehicle licence plate and the chassis numbers to avoid security risks that can arise from ill-intentioned users manipulating the system to find out confidential information of car owners.
“We have ensured that people only use the system when they are making a car purchase because when somebody is selling to you a car, they must provide a logbook for verification.
This reveals the chassis number and, therefore, using licence numbers alone will not return any results ensuring that innocent car owners are protected.” In the first five months of the year, the number of motor vehicles sold went up by eight per cent compared to a similar period last year.
By May the number of vehicles sold had climbed to 25,856 from 23,865 last year.
The application can be used to verify the identities of individuals using their revenue authority PINs and upon enquiry return a result of one’s tax compliance and financial history.