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Biometric verification system for SIM card issuance hurting sales for Pakistani telecoms


Since Pakistan’s government forced SIM card activations to be biometrically verified through the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) database, telecom companies have been reporting slower sales.

According to a report from Pakistan’s Daily Times citing industry sources, sales of new SIM cards and customer churn rate have rapidly declined because of the biometric verification and SIM card activation procedures which became mandatory August 1, 2014. Understanding around biometric verification for SIM activation in Pakistan remains low, and many sales points lacking biometrics technology are some of the factors standing in the way of higher sales.

Meanwhile, the report also noted that cellular operators are paying more to provide services to customers. Biometric verification equipment required at each point of sale can cost $350 to $400, and SIM verification costs cellular operators more than twice as much per transaction. A source said the industry has paid nearly $24.6 million over the past four years to NADRA, an independent corporate body that has been contracted to manage a nationwide biometric identity database for Pakistan.

For years, Pakistan telecoms have complained that linking SIM cards with the NADRA database would unfairly increase their operating costs.

Part of the strong impetus to introduce the SIM verification system was that unregistered phones were being used in terrorism, often as a means of detonating explosives remotely and in suicide bombings.

Earlier this year, biometrics and identification solutions provider Suprema announced one of its largest deployments ever when it provided its “BioMini Slim” fingerprint scanner to Pakistan-based SIM manufacturing and biometric security solutions provider Kwick High-Tech & Solutions to be used for Kwick’s Android-based biometric verification system for SIM cards issued in Pakistan.

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