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Telecoms and governments embrace biometrics for SIM registration, verification

Launches in Bahrain, Kazakhstan, collaboration in Nigeria
Telecoms and governments embrace biometrics for SIM registration, verification

Mobile network provider stc Bahrain has introduced face biometrics to enable instant SIM activation with secure user authentication. The technology compares the captured live photo with an existing database to reduce the risk of fraud.

The service is part of stc Bahrain’s launch of eSIM technology to further enhance customer experience, allowing users to obtain and activate an eSIM number online without visiting a physical stc outlet.

According to stc Bahrain, the combination of facial recognition and eSIM technology promotes a sustainable future by offering an eco-friendly approach to reduce plastic waste and simplify the activation process.

“By leveraging AI face recognition technology and eSIM capabilities, our existing and new subscribers can get an eSIM number online and activate it without visiting any stc outlet. Our aim is to empower customers by offering a seamless digital experience that enhances convenience and efficiency,” says Engineer Nezar Banabeela.

stc Bahrain partnered with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Bahrain to implement the biometric service.

The telecom provider claims to be the first operator in the region to use facial recognition for SIM activation, streamlining users’ digital experience through the My stc BH application.

India’s ASTR facial recognition tool for SIM verification has been credited with allowing authorities to identify 6 million fraud cases.

SIM registrations in Kazakhstan and Nigeria

The Digital Ministry of Kazakhstan has implemented a biometric authentication system for individuals purchasing SIM cards. This advanced method utilizes distinctive biological characteristics to enhance security, compared to traditional identity checks.

In response to concerns raised by Zharkynbek Amantai, a Member of Parliament, who proposed limiting SIM card sales to one per person, biometric verification has been introduced to prevent unauthorized reselling of SIM cards.

“He believes that this would help to prevent cards from being resold to third-party individuals and guarantee that a card is activated once its owner is verified,” says Ruslan Abdikalikov, chair of the Information Security Committee.

In an effort to enhance digital security and regulate telecom usage to prevent misuse, the authorities have imposed restrictions on website registration with foreign phone numbers. Kazakhstan has faced challenges in differentiating between various types of traffic, which affects its ability to identify calls that are routed internationally but appear to be local.

The lack of differentiation has resulted in a significant security vulnerability. According to reports, Chinese hackers have even been able to gain access to the IT infrastructure of Kazakhstani mobile operators.

Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has joined forces with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to improve the connection between the National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM cards.

One of the key aspects of this strategic collaboration is the ability to leverage NIMC’s database to verify the NIN submitted by subscribers during the SIM registration or linkage process. This process of data verification and validation serves to safeguard against fraud, identity theft, and other security threats within the telecommunications industry.

The initiative is intended to improve both security and service delivery, according to the press release.

The move comes after Nigerian telecoms began blocking millions of unregistered SIM cards.

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