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China Mobile launches first biometric verification system for SIM card sales in Pakistan


China Mobile has launched a biometric verification system in Pakistan, which according to the company, makes it the first mobile operator to do so.

Reported in The News Tribe, the new verification system requires fingerprint biometrics form buyers, matched against CNIC data with Nadra. The SIM card cannot be activated without biometric identification. This apparently takes 15 seconds to complete.

Zong, an Indian subsidiary of China Mobile, is the particular operator which has deployed the system,

Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, a system to mandate biometric verification for SIM card sales was brought forward by Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority in 2012, though following some bureaucratic disruptions, it has yet to be really enforced.

Under the proposed system in Pakistan, all telecom operators are to biometrically verify the identity of people buying SIM cards, as there have been fears that unregistered phones have become common tools for criminals in the country. This new system was frustrating for many operators who felt as though this additional cost for verification was too much to bear.

Originally, the verification systems were set to be operational by the end of February, 2013, though absent officials have now extended this period indefinitely. 

Pakistan is not the only country turning to biometrics to control SIM card sales, either.  BIO-key International has recently provide fingerprint analysis technology for a similar SIM card program in Nigeria. 

Also, the Indian department of telecommunications has been asked to examine the feasibility of a similar mandate in India.

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