Safaricom considering finger biometrics to curb SIM Card fraud

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Kenya’s biggest telco is exploring the use of fingerprint identification for key services such as replacement of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in light of the notorious SIM card swap fraud that plagued users in the country in the recent months. Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said that such incidents, the most recent of which resulted in the arrest of 22 suspects, including some Safaricom staff, calls for “more technical solutions.”

“We vet people quite carefully. It is only that some come in clean then become corrupted,” he said, “We are looking at introducing biometrics for SIM swaps. Meanwhile, if you want to do SIM swaps and the line is active, we will send a message with a request and you will have to confirm the request for the swap,” he added.

Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs, Stephen Chege, said the firm wants to elongate the identification process required for services such as SIM swaps to serve as a deterrent to fraudsters. “If we bring in biometrics and someone tries social engineering, at some point they will be required to put in details like a thump print to prove if that is a genuine customer authorizing SIM swap,” said Mr Chege, adding that the move could solve the problem of fraudsters posing as Safaricom staff to extract vital information from customers.

Last year the telco introduced ‘Jitambulishe’, the voice biometric system which allows customers to access services such as resetting of their M-Pesa PIN and PUK requests through a faster and timeless vetting process. The process previously involved speaking to a Safaricom agent or taking a number of steps before getting the much-needed service.