Safaricom plans to review legal terms to migrating M-pesa customers who opt to use the paper-thin overlay SIM card technology. This comes after Equity Bank attained approval to use the overlay thin SIM card to offer mobile phone services such as money transfer on a one year trial period.

Safaricom’s review of the legal commitments will address legal exposures that could emerge from use of the SIM overlay technology in relation to mobile banking activities.

According to Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) and Central Bank of Kenya, the use of this technology will remain under strict observation and if any malice is reported then the system will be terminated during the one year trial period.

The Authority has approved Taisy’s SIM cards, Taiwanese firm Equity contracted through its Mobile Virtual Network Provider Finserve Africa, to operate in the Kenyan market.

In addition, the Authority has began hiring process of an internationally reputable firm to conduct a security inspection on all SIM cards and particularly use of thin SIM in mobile transfer activities. This will ensure that there is a framework regulating use of thin SIM cards in Kenya during this period.

How the thin SIM card operates

The technology enables placement of a thin SIM card on top of a primary standard one, a new technology that had been opposed by Safaricom over data security concerns. If you type your PIN code or other codes, for it to access your tool kit, the thin SIM sitting in between is capable of seeing that transaction.

The SIM thin card gets merged to the existing card and turns your phone into a dual SIM although it has only one slot. If somebody calls you on your Equity line, you can pick it and if they call you on another network, you do the same.

This means Equity customers will not need to migrate to the bank’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) by getting new SIM cards or be forced to purchase dual SIM phones. Equity Bank won an MVNO license in April this year.

The SIM cards will be available for free, a tactical move that analysts say could accelerate its penetration into the market.

Equity Bank has already started distributing 300,000 smartphones to retailers.




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