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Biometric SIM sales ramp up in Pakistan, Telenor latest to install verification system


There has long been debate around a mandate for biometric verification for all SIM card sales in Pakistan, and operators and merchants are starting to get on board. Just this week, Telenor announced its successful installation at its sales and service centers throughout the country.

”We have completed the installation of biometric verification systems at all our Sales and Service Centers and Franchises in the country to ensure higher accuracy of subscriber data,“ Aslam Hayat, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Telenor Pakistan said.

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, the start date has changed numerous times.

In November 2013, China Mobile — another mobile provider in Pakistan — announced it had also installed a similar verification system for SIM sales.

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. 

Pakistan is not the only country turning to biometrics to control SIM card sales, either.  BIO-key International has recently provided 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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