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Indian telecoms ask government to approve remote SIM registration with facial biometrics

Indian telecoms ask government to approve remote SIM registration with facial biometrics

With the COVID-19 outbreak making in-person visits to telecom branches for biometric SIM registration impossible, mobile service providers in India have asked the government to allow a new self-KYC process with biometric facial recognition and liveness detection, ET Telecom reports.

The businesses are asking that customers be allowed to register new SIM cards and port phone numbers digitally with the process, in a letter from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to Department of Telecommunications Secretary Anshu Prakesh.

The person applying to receive or move a phone number fills in the required forms with the mobile operator, and then submits a photo with a geolocation tag and a time stamp water mark. A five-second video enables the liveness check, and back-end teams at the telecom will validate the customer’s data. The number of registrations customers can perform are limited to two per day. COAI says the proposed process is designed to meet the government’s KYC guidelines, as a digital equivalent of existing procedures.

Leading cellular service providers in India Vodaphone Idea, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel collectively signed up 500,000 new customers in March, compared to an average monthly number between 2.5 and 3 million, according to ET Times.

Indian telecoms were blocked from biometric Aadhaar-based onboarding by the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on private sector use of the system, and businesses have struggled to find satisfactory KYC processes since, with video-KYC rejected by regulators last year.

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