Equity Bank’s thin-SIM card rollout has been halted today fading the firm’s hopes to launch them in Kenya as soon as they could due to their security concerns purpotted by Safaricom.
Today, in a sitting the National Assembly’s Energy and ICT Committee asked Kenya’s Communications Authority (CA) to have a security audit of the technology before it’s deployed.
Safaricom announced it was not satisfied with CA’s move just hours after it had tentatively approved the roll out of the SIM overlay technology. The firm said it would review its legal commitments to its customers and banking partners with the view of addressing the legal exposures that could be created by the use of the SIM overlay technology, particularly in relation to mobile banking activities. This is what is said to have scared everyone away from thin sim even before it was launched.
“Being partly owned by the government, it becomes hard to regulate Safaricom and even harder to allow a direct competitor to its suppliers. Safaricom’s M-PESA is hosted by Kenya’s Commercial Bank of Africa-a bank said to have ties with the first family. It would be hard for anyone to let go of their golden goose just like that,” said a political economist who doesn’t want to be named.
The fate of Equity remains in the hands of CA though and it depends on how long an independent audit into the overlay sim will happen. However, it will take a longtime to relinguish the fear Safaricom has already inflicted among its users against the vulnerabilities in the overlay sim.