Biometric registration continues to cast a shadow on Saudi telco market

The number of active SIM cards in 2016 declined by 4.87 million relative to 2015
Biometric authentication, Biometric registration continues to cast a shadow on Saudi telco market, Fingerprint, Fingerprint law, Saudi telecom market

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The sale of mobile SIM cards in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has fallen to its steepest level in five years, according to a report by The Saudi Gazette. Among other reasons that might be responsible for this decline, experts have been pointing out at two main reasons- the increasing number of expats leaving the Kingdom, and secondly, the compulsory requirement for biometric registration for each SIM card user.

According to the statistics released by the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC), there were 47.93 million active SIM cards in 2016 against 52.8 million in 2015, which is a drop of 4.87 million.

Taking into account the security concerns around issuance of SIM cards, early in 2016, the rule was put in place which made it mandatory to register fingerprints with phone numbers. Some of our regularization processes have been attributed to the decline in SIM card issuance,”said Faiz Al-Otaibi, CITC spokesman.

Earlier this year, Saudi operator Mobily attributed its loss to the huge costs incurred in implementing government's biometric registration initiative.

CommsMEA is currently engaged in discussions with industry analysts to delve deeper into the matter.

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