Saudi telco blames Q4 loss on biometric identification initiative

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Arabia’s second largest telecommunications operator, blamed a fourth-quarter loss on the cost of implementing a government initiative to register fingerprints with phone numbers, according to a Reuters report.

Mobily posted a net loss of $18.9M USD in the three months to December 31. This compares with a profit of $2.8M USD in the prior-year period.

Mobily said the suspension of unregistered customer lines and resulting pressure on sales contributed to a 16.6 per cent decline in revenue.

Under Communications and Information Technology Commission rules announced last year, all SIM cards issued in Saudi Arabia must be linked to a fingerprint record held at the Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center. The initiative aims to stop people obtaining mobile phones by using fraudulent ID cards.

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