REPORT | Kenyan National ID is the Most Vulnerable to Fraud in Africa, While Payments Remain Most Targeted, Says 2024 SmileID Report

Interestingly, companies in the crypto industry experienced the most fluctuation in fraud rates between 6% in September 2023 and around 16% in December 2023.

The Kenyan National ID has been identified as the most susceptible to fraudulent attempts, according to a report by digital identity verification provider, SmileID.

According to the recent 2024 Digital Identity Fraud in Africa Report by SmileID, in most regions, businesses, especially financial institutions, must collect and verify ID documents during onboarding to regulate access to their services. Fraudsters seeking to access financial services will usually attempt to bypass onboarding protocols using compromised documents.


“In the last two years, an overwhelming number of fraud attacks were directed at National ID cards, which accounted for 80% of all document fraud attacks,” the report said.

“11 out of the top 19 most attacked document types were also National IDs, with the Kenyan ID being the most vulnerable at a 25% fraud rate.”


The report pointed to the ubiquity of the National Identity Card for accessing services, while many African countries have been changing their IDs recently, as reasons behind vulnerability.


“In most countries, the National ID is the most common form of Government identification and is mandatory for most adults. With more National ID documents in circulation than ever before, the chances of them getting lost or stolen get increasingly higher by the year, exposing holders to potential document fraud.

Many African countries have either recently implemented new National IDs or plan to in the coming years. Logistical issues around properly discarding the older IDs can lead to them falling into the wrong hands. An excellent example is South Africa, where the older Green ID card saw significant fraud targeting.”



Kenya, whose identity card is the most attacked, is currently conducting pilot programs ahead of introducing a new identification system which is expected to curb rates of forgery and enable virtual identification of its citizens.

SmileID, which achieved a milestone of 100 million verifications done using its digital systems for documents and biometrics, noted that while businesses in all industries can be victims of fraud, financial service businesses have long been the focus of fraudsters across the continent and remained so in 2023.

Interestingly, companies in the crypto industry experienced the most fluctuation in fraud rates between 6% in September 2023 and around 16% in December 2023.

The payments industry showed high levels of fraud, reaching as much as:

  • 42% in February 2023
  • 3% in August 2023

The banking and lending industry saw consistent fraud trends over most of the year (under 10%) and experienced a spike at the beginning of Q4 2023 peaking in November at nearly 20%.

SmileID also pointed out that biometrics are 4 times better at detecting fraud compared to other forms of user identification, hence businesses implementing biometrics will be less vulnerable to attacks.

That said, fraudsters are getting more sophisticated and biometrics saw a record 13% of fraudulent attempts in Q4 2023.




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