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Nadra and telecoms struggle to find middle ground on SIM card biometric verification mandate

As the Pakistan government has indicated, those selling SIM cards must now use biometric verification systems to identify their customers, but at present, telecoms and the government are having a hard time finding middle ground on this issue, The International News reports.

The biometric verification directive came from the Ministry of the Interior, which ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to stop all cellular mobile operators from selling new SIMS and withhold the stock of SIMS from all sales channels.

Verification systems are set to be operational by February 28, 2013, and will compare customer identities with records stored by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), though telecom officials are up in arms as they say they’re being forced to spend more money in a move designed only to benefit Nadra.

According to the report, each unit is estimated to cost more than USD$930, not including maintenance costs.

“Since Nadra is the only agency that provides for biometric verification, the implementation of this system will see it earning more than $USD 46 million from all [cellular mobile operators] put together,” a telecommunications insider said to The International News.

As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, Pakistan’s Interior “Minister Rehman Malik said unregistered phones and motorcycles have become “instruments for terrorists to unleash violence,” leading to the SIM card biometric verification mandate.

Though customer identities will be referenced with Nadra records, it has recently been reported that Nadra currently lacks the biometric data of 3.72 million women voters in Pakistan.

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