Equity Bank and Safaricom have taken the thin SIM-card battle to the Parliament. The two have appeared before the parliamentary committee on energy, information and communications chaired by Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau.
Equity Bank obtained MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) license in April via its subsidiary Finserve Africa Ltd, which is to depend on Airtel’s free network capacity to function.
The controversy arose when Equity announced it would roll out thin SIM-cards that would be stuck on ordinary SIM-cards to fit within the same slot. Safaricom argued that SIM could tap data on transmission and would act as an unauthorized third party between it and customers.
Telco protested against Equity’s plan to roll out the thin SIM card, arguing that it would compromise the security of its subscriber’s privacy of communication and data.
However, Equity has made a change of mind on utility of the thin SIM card arguing that it can never be used at the same time with other SIM cards.
James Mwangi, Equity Bank’s chief executive who was accompanied by a team of 17 senior managers including Eng John Waweru, Finserve’s chairman stated: “The two SIMs can never work simultaneously; one needs to be off. The possibility of one reading the other’s data does not come up.”
According to Stephen Chege, Safaricom’s head of regulatory and public policy, the company is not against the use of thin SIM as along as standards are developed to make sure nothing is compromised.
Equity Bank was requested by the parliamentary committee to provide evidence of where the SIM has been utilized to offer financial services in a competitive environment.
The Central Bank and Communications Authority of Kenya are on scheduled to appear before the committee Tuesday.