All new Thai SIMs will require fingerprint registration from March
Wed 1 Feb 2017
It has been confirmed that Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) – who merely lease connectivity from infrastructure providers – will not be exempted from new legislation in Thailand which requires that a fingerprint be associated with all mobile SIMs distributed in the nation from March this year.
In November the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) announced the mandate, outlining February 2017 as the deadline for operators to facilitate the ID registration scheme, which was ostensibly created to prevent online fraud and increase security in mobile banking.
MNVOs had appealed for exemption due to the additional operating costs, on top of line lease tariffs. But NBTC Secretary General Takorn Tantasith is reported to have turned the request down, stating that consumer interests must be prioritised. “Any violation will face penalties ranging from a fine, to a ban on receiving new mobile numbers from the regulator, to a licence revocation.”
Thailand’s existing 106 million mobile users will not be constrained to register their current devices. This effectively gives non-ID SIM usage in Thailand a withering vine of 3-7 years, based on current upgrade patterns and smartphone turnover.
Operators will be able to deduct the 1000-2000 baht (£25-45) cost of a compulsory SIM registration from their annual universal service obligation (USO) payable to the NBTC. Thai telcos are obliged to surrender 5% of annual revenue to the central body.
In January of 2016 Saudi Arabia also announced a fingerprint ID registration scheme, which similarly does not include retroactive registration for existing users or devices. According to a report by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), mobile subscribers dropped by three million to 51 million in the wake of the legislation, under which information on the SIM is shared with the National Information Centre to confirm the authenticity of the buyer during transactions.
Mobile fingerprint ID registration is an option that the Indian government has also explored.