Equity Bank Thin SIM troubles not over

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya’s Equity Bank's quest to plunge into mobile money and telephony business is facing more troubles. This follows Kenya Parliament’s move to fault and stop deployment of Thin SIM card technology in the country.

The Parliamentary Committee on Information and Technology wants the process suspended until an independent technical evaluation and functional test is done and the Thin SIM card security audit sanctioned by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) is accomplished.

The report will soon be tabled in parliament for discussion.

The committee says the Ministry of ICT and Central Bank of Kenya hastily licensed Equity Bank to operate technology in Kenya without taking into account the concerns of the public.

The report also states that due process was not followed in licensing Equity Bank to operate the technology, thereby exposing Kenyans to great risk insofar as privacy is concerned.

“The committee notes with deep concern the reckless manner the Ministry of ICT and the Central Bank went about the approval of deployment of Thin SIM in Kenya,” the report states in part.

The committee notes in its report that the ministry seems to have no problem with Equity Bank’s subsidiary Finserve Africa Ltd rolling out the SIM technology on other service providers’ networks.

“Though the ministry and the CAK maintained that both SIM cards cannot be on at the same time, there were indications that the Thin SIM derives its power from the primary SIM and they did not provide technical evidence to that effect that by the Thin SIM deriving its power from the primary SIM, the Thin SIM can actually work while the primary SIM is off,” reads the report in part.

This means Equity will have to convince Parliament and by extension, the public that the Thin SIM technology is secure.

Leading mobile telephony company, Safaricom, was the first to raise complaint against the Thin SIM technology. Thereafter a Kenyan citizen Bernard Murage went to court to have the process stopped.

The war eventually spilt into parliament whose verdict now paints a grim picture for Equity Bank’s quest to rattle the market.  

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