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[August 18, 2014]
Communications regulator sets Friday thin-SIM meeting [Business Daily (Kenya)]
(Business Daily (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The communications regulator has summoned Safaricom and Equity Bank for a Friday meeting, ahead of an expected ruling on the proposed use of embedded SIM cards to offer mobile banking services.
The meeting will set the stage for determination of a case in which Safaricom has protested Equity's intended use of paper-thin SIM cards that ride on a primary SIM card.
"The authority has held separate meetings with, Safaricom, Equity, Airtel and the thin SIM card manufacturer and the final meeting that will now bring all the parties together is set for Friday," said Francis Wangusi, the Communications Authority of Kenya director-general in a phone interview.
Equity's subsidiary Finserve was in April granted a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence alongside Mobile Pay Ltd and Zioncell. Equity plans to use the licence to roll out telecommunications and mobile banking services, riding on Airtel's network.
Safaricom, however, filed a petition claiming that Equity's phone-based banking and cash transfer service, which is intended to ride on a special SIM card that is placed on top of conventional SIMs, would pose a security threat to mobile subscribers.
READ: Safaricom opposes Equity Bank's plan to use piggy-back SIM cards "It is after this meeting that the authority will make a final decision on the matter, but not on the same day," added Mr Wangusi.
The director-general, however, refused to give timelines on the final decision.
The regulator has been investigating whether the use of the ultra-slim cards poses potential security threats.
The SIM card in contention is paper-thin and embedded with a chip. Users overlay it on their primary SIM card, regardless of the network, and can subsequently receive services from two mobile service providers simultaneously.
Other than the three firms, Kenya Airways has also signed a partnership agreement with Airtel to ride on its network to rollout an MVNO service.
In an earlier interview with the Business Daily, Safaricom's CEO Bob Collymore said the mobile provider is not opposed to Equity's MVNO license, but is instead seeking guidance from the authority and GSM on the specific impact of rolling out the service on its customers.
Equity responded to Safaricom's protest letter dated June 26, arguing that the thin SIM technology is not new and is use in a number of countries such as UK, China, Cambodia and Taiwan.
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