South Africa’s national ID has seen more fraud attempts compared to other IDs on the continent, according to a report by Smile Identity.

According to Smile Identity’s H1 2023 State of KYC in Africa report, South Africa’s national ID is one of the most targeted by fraud attempts on the continent. 

In the first half of 2023, the national IDs of Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa were the three most frequently targeted types of IDs for fraud relative to other forms of identification across Africa. Specifically, in these three countries, national ID cards experienced a higher fraud rate than any other form of ID during the first half of 2023. The report states that scammers frequently attempt to use forged or stolen national IDs to gain fraudulent access to regulated services.

The majority of fraud attempts comprise one of the following three formats; selfie spoofs, face mismatches, and fraudulent IDs. In a selfie spoof, scammers with stolen IDs attempt to pass themselves off as the owners of the documents by using a photo to impersonate someone else. This can include using a picture of a printout, a saved image or video from a device, a printed face mask, or even a lifesize cardboard cutout.

In a face mismatch, a valid ID number is provided, but facial biometrics do not match the ID while in the case of fraudulent IDs, these could be counterfeit IDs, unacceptable ID types, tampered documents, expired IDs or times when an actual ID card was not provided. Of the three, in South Africa, selfie spoofs were the most common form of ID fraud, followed by face mismatches and fraudulent IDs.

However, despite leading the national ID fraud trend, overall, fraud rates in South Africa dropped from 17% to 8% in the period between January 2023 and June 2023. The figures make South Africa the lowest-ranking country for onboarding fraud and the only country with a single-digit percentage of fraud attempts.

In February 2023, South Africa’s ministry of home affairs announced a new National Identification and Registration Bill that aims to introduce a single, integrated biometric national identification system for all persons living in South Africa. Currently, South Africa has three independent databases for people: the national population register, the biometric national identity system, and the visa adjudication system. 

The newly proposed integrated database will homogenise all three databases and contain the identity information of everyone resident in South Africa, including citizens, legal residents, and visitors. In addition to the integrated database, the new bill proposes reducing the legal age for obtaining a national ID card from 16 to 10 years.

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