As pension industry awaits unveiling of the Retirement Savings Account (RSAs) Transfer Window, PenCom and PenOp have intensified effort aimed at ensuring a fraud free initiative. NGOZI ONYEAKUSI reports.

The National Pension Commission (PenCom), and the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp) have affirmed that adequate measures have been put in place to ensure that no fraudulent activity takes place by contributors or operators when the soon-to-be-launched Transfer Window is unveiled.
Naturally, it is not out of place to think of perpetrators and their likely dubious activities whenever an innovation is about to be launched.
This is true as it has become a life style that whenever a product is rolled out to the public, the next thing will be how best to hack into the same product in order to fraudulently take undue advantage of it.
Effort to tackle fraud
An intelligent check by NAIPCO Trumpet to know the level of industry’s preparedness ahead of the exercise showed that PenOp has created a Self Monitoring Internal Structure (SMIS) for its member companies, a mechanism that assists in checking activities of fraudsters in the industry. The investigation further revealed that PenOp was involving other critica information and communication technology, ICT, giants for the purpose.
The Managing Director, IEI-Anchor Pension Managers Limited, Glory Etaduovie while speaking on the effort to guard against fraud ahead of the transfer window, stated, “One thing I think you can be sure of for now is that the measures to guard against fraud in the pension industry is to a large extent very strong, because of the structure – the Pension Fund Operators (PFAs) only administer and Pension Funds Custodians (PFCs) release fund. The process is plain and of course PenCom is equally in the process.
So to a large extent the structure on ground, as far as the Transfer Window is concerned, is very good to me.
Again, I think what appears to be delaying the transfer window is that because large numbers are going to be involved. They are in millions. So if the ICT platforms are not well defined there could be opening for fraudulent activities.
There is a high level interaction between PenCom and PenOp which had been on-going since last year and more so, putting in place, a near full proof of cyber abuse. We are even involving other critical ICT giants.
I think another one of the important steps achieved last year was creating a Self-Monitoring Internal Structure for PenOps, independence of PenCom. It is something close to what you find in Chartered Financial Advisers (CFAs), it is an authentic self-monitoring system for investment worth” he assured.
Similarly, PenCom has assured that with the aid of biometric, it will be difficult if not impossible to defraud the transfer window.
“The pension industry is highly regulated, so regards to Transfer Window, the technology being put in place involves biometrics and you and I know that you can’t take another person’s”, said the Head of Corporate Communications PenCom, Peter Aghahowa.
“I don’t know if you are aware when we asked all our contributors to register with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS). This is part of the effort. If you want to transfer, the biometrics will be part of the control measure that will be used”, Aghahowa e said.
Need for healthy Competition
Meanwhile, industry watchers strongly believe that once the window kicks off, it will come with its attendant competition. Unarguably, it is a known fact that most PFAs will lose their customers to firms that offer more quality services.
Against this backdrop, most FPAs are presently involved in serious business campaign/advertisement using both print, electronic, social media and other communication channels to sensitise the public on their preparedness to offer qualitative service.
While competitively warming up to grab, lion portion of the existing and emerging markets, PenCom cautioned that it has a very high strict monitoring mechanism aimed at ensuring that PFAs maintain high business standard.
“There is a guideline the commission issued and emphasis is made that operators do not mis-sell or mis-market. It is a constant thing that was projected even right from inception of PenCom.
There is very high strict monitoring in ensuring that they play up to standard. If we get any report from them, we will definitely going to take it up. What is there is that there has been a capital message from the commission even with the current mandatory contributory pension scheme (CPS). So I don’t think there should be a problem” said Aghahowa.
Corroborating, Etaduovie called on the need to protect the industry, “Again, among the operators, when we meet, we remind ourselves that we need to protect the industry, all hands are being made to protect the industry for healthy competition”, he said.
Transfer Window is mechanism that allows contributors and retirees to choose a new PFA if necessary, in accordance with the commissions directives as enshrined in Section 13 and Section 106 subsection 1 to 4 of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as repealed by PRA 2014.