Thailand government introduces fingerprint ID for SIM card registration

Thailand regulating organization National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has made it mandatory for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to use an online fingerprint ID system to register prepaid and postpaid mobile SIM card registrations by March without exception, according to a report by the Bangkok Post.

MVNOs, which are mobile service providers that do not have their own mobile network, have pleaded with the regulator over the past several months to reconsider their decision.

They argue that the mandatory fingerprinting will lead to additional costs for them, making it harder to go up against the larger mobile operators.

A recent NBTC study found that the system will cost mobile service operators 1,000-2,000 baht (US$28.52-57.05) per registration.

NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith acknowledged that MVNOS who have fewer outlets may incur additional costs as a result of the fingerprint system, but emphasized that it is necessary as the country transitions to a digital-driven economy.

“We cannot accept the MVNO’s request, as consumer benefits must come first,” said Tantasith, adding that the fingerprint system qualifies as a business expense and can therefore be deducted from the universal service obligation (USO) annual fee which operators pay to the NBTC.

With the new rule, all mobile operators will have to begin implementing the online fingerprint ID system by March. However, mobile users will have the freedom to decide whether or not they want to submit their fingerprints into the system.

“Any violation will face penalties ranging from a fine, to a ban on receiving new mobile numbers from the regulator, to a licence revocation,” said Tantasith.

Tantasith has recommended that all mobile users to submit their fingerprints to the system to optimize security in mobile banking and prevent the risk of fraud, which will likely see a rise in a digital economy society.

Currently, 14 million of the country’s 103 million mobile subscribers use mobile banking services offered by bank, financial institutions and mobile operators that allow customers to perform some financial transactions remotely using a mobile device, with no bank account required.

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