The Authority has today allowed Finserve Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Equity Bank to roll-out its services using the thin SIM technology, for a one year trial period.

This follows contention by Mobile Service Provider, Safaricom over the use of the technology in the Kenyan market, citing possible security flaws.

Addressing the press today, CA Chairman Ngene Gituku said, the Authority, jointly with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had reviewed Safaricom’s complaints arriving at the conclusion that the technology is safe for use in the country.

 ‘‘The two regulators engaged both Safaricom Limited and Finserve Kenya Limited for separate hearings on the matter. The two regulators also sought representations from Taisys SIMoME®, who is the manufacturer of the thin SIM in question. Opinion on the use of overlay SIM was also sought from GSMA, the association of GSM service providers and manufacturers of various products used in the provision of GSM services,’’ said Mr. Gituku.

Safaricom argued that the use of the overlay SIM alongside other GSM handsets may cause interruption and interception of communication. Additionally, the operator claimed that the technology would likely introduce vulnerabilities in the network as well as infringing on intellectual property rights.

After engaging various parties, the two regulators found that the technology meets all minimum mandatory international standards pertaining to the manufacturing of the thin SIM. “No major complaints and particularly on interception of traffic of the primary SIM card has been reported so far. According to GSMA, save for the inherent vulnerabilities of all SIM cards, there are no specific and confirmed vulnerabilities arising from the use of the thin SIM,” added Mr. Gituku.

During the one year trial period, the Authority will engage the services of an internationally reputable firm to conduct a security audit on all SIM cards, and in particular the use of the thin SIM in mobile transfer services, and recommend a framework for regulating the use of SIM cards in Kenya.

Should any vulnerability occur from the use of Taisys thin SIM card within this one year testing period, then operations of the SIM card in the Kenyan market will cease forthwith pending the final recommendations from the security report.

CBK Governor Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u said the Kenyan market is ready for new frontiers that will ensure that all Kenyans have access to mobile money and other banking services.

CA Director General Francis Wangusi was optimistic that the coming in of new players in the sector, especially MVNOs, would provide consumers with a variety of services and open up space for greater innovation in the sector.

Read the full press statement