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New Hope for Equity Bank As Kenya’s Communications Authority Approves Thin SIM

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Dr James Mwangi with  The McKinsey & Company Global Managing Director Mr. Dominic Barton
Dr James Mwangi with The McKinsey & Company Global Managing Director Mr. Dominic Barton

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the Central Bank of Kenya have today announced they have approved the use of thin SIM technology in the country for a one year pilot phase.

The CA said after gathering information on the subject, and holding a stakeholder conference that included participation from Safaricom Limited, Finserve Kenya Limited, Airtel Kenya Limited Orange, Telkom Kenya Limited and Essar Telcom Limited, also attended by the two other MVNOs, GSMA and Taisys-the thin SIM supplier among others, at CA Center, operators wanting to use the thin sim can go ahead and launch their services to the public.

According to Ngene Gituku, Chairman of the Communications Authority of Kenya, ” The thin SIM complies with all minimum mandatory international standards pertaining to the manufacturing of the thin SIM. No major complaints and particularly on interception of traffic of the primary SIM card has been reported so far.”

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IMG_0143Gituku added in his speech that, “Tests conducted on Taisys thin SIM by China National Computer Quality Supervising Test Center as well as the Bank Card Test Center of China  show this particular thin SIM complies with applicable ISO and ETSI standards. Based on the opinion of GSMA, save for the inherent vulnerabilities of all SIM cards, there are no specific and confirmed vulnerabilities arising from the use of the thin SIM.

Due to the above outcome, the Board of Directors of the Communications Authority of Kenya announced that there is no sufficient evidence to block in the Kenyan market the entry of the thin SIM and the Authority will allow the use of thin SIM technology under strict observation for a period of one year. During this period, only Taisys’ SIMoME® thin SIM will operate in the Kenyan market.

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“The Authority has began the process of hiring an internationally reputable firm to conduct a security audit on all SIM cards, and in particular the use of the thin SIM in mobile transfer services, and recommend a framework for regulating the use of SIM card in Kenya during this period.During the one year testing period, if any vulnerability is discovered from the use of Taisys thin SIM card, then operations of the SIM card in the Kenyan market will cease forthwith pending the final recommendations from the security report,” Gituku said in the prepared statement.

IMG_0138Kenya’s Equity Bank though its Finserve Kenya Limited and any other operator intending to use the thin SIM for mobile money transfer must obtain authorization from the Central Bank of Kenya .

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The Board of the Authority said it sees the importance of mobile platforms, including payment systems to be robust enough to guarantee security and sufficiently flexible to allow for seamless interconnectivity with other services within the sector for the benefit of Kenyans.

Safaricom and Equity Bank have been having a row of the technology which saw the two appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Communication and Energy to discuss its security and applicability in the country.  Equity Bank disputed Safaricom’s security claims agains the Thin SIM saying it won’t make its mobile money transactions vulnerable to attacks. On security Equity Bank claimed to have more superb technology as a bank and understands customer technology.

Equity Bank had also received approval from the European Technical Standards Institute and was suspicious of Safaricom’s complaints as other MNO’s had no concerns. After the Communications Authority of Kenya approval today for Equity Bank to deploy the thin SIM technology, the bank needs the Central Bank of Kenya approval to carry out digital payments in the country. Equity Bank will get the thin SIM’s from Taisys.

Present in Taipei, China, Singapore, Thailand and South Africa, Taisys  Technologies Co. Ltd is a member of the  GSMA and the sole supplier of the patented SIMoME technology (Slim SIM) which allows financial institutions, transport operators, and MNOs/MVNOs with the ability to run duoSIM, have smart dialer, carry out mBanking, do mobiOTP ,Secure eSMS, NFC duoPASS mPayment among others. Taisys claims to have served over 10 million end users worldwide.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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