, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has approved the use of thin SIM technology for one year following investigations that the thin SIM does not have any threats to the user.
This will see Equity Bank a step closer to launching its Mobile Virtual Network Operator services which was to kick off in July this year.
Making the announcement on Monday, CA Chairman Ngene Gituku said the authority will only allow one firm, Taiwan-based SIM manufacturer Taisys Technologies, to supply the SIMs during the one-year period.
“There is no sufficient evidence to block, in the Kenyan market, the entry of the thin SIM. The authority will allow the use of thin SIM technology under strict observation for a period of one year. During this period, only Taisys thin SIM will operate in the Kenyan market,” Gituku said during a press conference.
Safaricom has opposed the use of the overlay SIM alongside any other on GSM handsets, may cause interruptions and interceptions of communications.
Safaricom had also raised concerns that the dual use of overlay SIM may introduce vulnerabilities in the network as well as infringing on intellectual property rights.
But Gituku maintains that the thin SIM complies with all minimum mandatory international standards and that no major complaints especially on interception of traffic of the primary SIM card has been reported so far.
“Tests conducted on Taisys thin SIM by China National Computer Quality Supervising Test Centre as well as the Bank Card Test Centre of China shows that this particular thin SIM complies with applicable ISO and ETSI standards,” the chairman said.
What remains of Equity Bank through its licensed Mobile Virtual Network Operator Finserve Africa Limited is to apply for approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to use the thin SIM for financial services.
“For you to engage yourself in mobile phone financial services, you have to follow the National Payments and Settlement Systems Act 2012 and you also have to follow the National Payments and Settlement Guidelines of 2014. So it is Finserve which should apply because it has already been given a go ahead by CA,” CBK Governor Njuguna Ndungu said.
Equity MVNO plans to mirror all its banking services into the mobile phone by linking the account to the mobile phone where customers can apply for loans, move money to and from their bank accounts, pay bills as well as carry out trans-border transactions from their mobile phone.
Apart from Finserve Africa Limited other MVNOs licensed by CA are Zioncell Kenya Limited and MobilePay Limited all of which will be hosted by Airtel Kenya.