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NADRA details Pakistan’s stronger fingerprint biometric system for SIM registration

NADRA details Pakistan’s stronger fingerprint biometric system for SIM registration

A new fingerprint biometric system is now being used by telecoms in Pakistan to register people for SIM activation, following a deal between NADRA and the country’s Cellular Mobile Operators to carry out the transition.

The new system was introduced in November. It is known as the Multi Finger Biometric Verification System (MBVS), and involves new devices deployed to points of sale for authentication with multiple fingerprints for higher accuracy.

The seller is not responsible to select which fingers are used with the new system, which instead randomly requests which two fingers of the applicant’s to use. This algorithm for finger randomization was developed domestically, according to the announcement. The implementation is also supposed to make the use of fake fingerprints impossible.

The signing of the agreement was attended by NADRA Chairman Tariq Malik, as well as senior officials with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and representatives of telecoms.

“The MBVS will not only eliminate silicon-based fingerprints used for issuance of mobile phone SIMs but also will hamper the attempts to purchase illegal SIMs,” says Malik. “The new MBVS system will combat fake SIM issuance, ID fraud, protect privacy and strengthen national security of Pakistan.”

The legacy BVS has been in operation for nine years.

The number of cellular subscribers in Pakistan has declined for three consecutive months, ProPakistani reports.

Subscribers dropped by 630,000 in October, reaching 193.51 million by month-end, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority figures.

The decrease in attributed to lower illegal SIM issuances due to the updated biometric verification process.

Users of 3G and 4G mobile communications protocols increased slightly over the same period.

Telenor, one of the country’s leading telecoms, will charge an activation fee of 200 Pakistani rupees (approximately US$0.88) for all SIMs registered with a passport as of January 5, according to a brief announcement.

The country began issuing chip-enabled biometric passports last year.

Crackdown on issuance of CNIC to foreigners

NADRA has refused to issue computerized national identity cards (CNICs) to 1,427 Afghan nationals, Dawn reports. Chairman Tariq Malik cited the statistic during the inauguration of a registration center in Larkana.

Malik said that manual processes have allowed some Afghan nationals to wrongly obtain CNICs, but that the implementation of biometric systems is preventing such fraudulent issuances.

He also cautioned against misinformation circulating on social media about foreigners obtaining Pakistani IDs.

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