Pakistan’s Mobile Biometric Registration Takes Toll on Telecoms

Pakistan's Mobile Biometric Registration Takes Toll on TelecomsStrict security measures implemented by Pakistan’s national government have taken a major toll on the country’s telecommunications sector. In the wake of the Biometric Verification System (BVS) project, Pakistan’s telecom providers are reporting a loss of over 25 million subscribers.

The BVS project was undertaken at the start of the year as a response to last fall’s tragic Peshawar school attack. In its investigation after the attack, the government found that some of the gunmen had coordinated the massacre using phones obtained with fake identities; the BVS was implemented to register the biometric data of all cellphone users in the country as a security precaution. Telecom providers struggled to meet the administrative difficulties of such a project within the government’s timeline, ultimately persuading it to extend the deadline from late February to early April.

While there still may be thousands of unverified SIM cards operating in the country, the BVS has succeeded in getting the country’s leading operators to shut down millions of bogus accounts. But that has clearly come at a price to the industry, with the Daily Times reporting that the country’s teledensity – the percentage of mobile customers – by 16 percent. Ironically, as biometric technology becomes more widespread in mobile devices themselves, the country may soon see widespread use of mobile biometric authentication helping to revive the mobile industry in the wake of the government’s intensive regulatory efforts.

Source: Daily Times