Chinese company, Transsion, has reported a 33 percent jump in its net profit in the first half of 2020 amid reports that thousands of Tecno Mobile phones it manufactured for the African Market came pre-installed with malware.
Transsion reported a 32 percent increase in its smartphone shipments year-on-year during the same period. The Shenzhen based manufacturer dominates both the middle and lower sector of the African Phone Market.
Transsion maintains that the malware only affected one model under the Tecno Mobile brand and that they had already fixed the problem by releasing security patches, which users can download, and install to fix the problem.
Upstream, the company which discovered the Malware, reported that it blocked 844,000 transactions linked to the dubious subscriptions from the pre-installed malware on Transsion phones.
Overall, Upstream reported blocking 19.2 million unscrupulous subscriptions between April 2019 and August 2020. These was found in over 200,000 Transsion Tecno W2 devices in African countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon, and Ghana. According to Upstream, the suspicious activity is still ongoing.
The malware comes pre-installed on the phones meaning users might be oblivious of them. However, they might have experienced their airtime and data bundles getting depleted at a much faster rate compared to their normal usage. This is because the airtime was used to pay for subscriptions without their knowledge ultimately funding the malware owners.
Since their launch in Africa, Transsion has grown in leaps owing to their more favourable price points in line with the population which mainly consists of the middle and lower market range compared to Apple and Samsung.The strategy has worked well for the African Market as more than half of all smartphones sold in Africa in the fourth quarter of 2019 reportedly cost less than $100.
The news comes amid China’s waning popularity in the region citing racial discrimination due to high debts and wariness in losing control to the Chinese government.
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