EQUITY-LOGOFrost & Sullivan consultant Lawrence Lundy has revealed that the concerns about the safety of Equity Bank’s planned use of ultra-slim SIM cards in Kenya are unjustified.

Equity Bank was granted a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence in April, which it plans to use to boost mobile banking services in the country. Equity announced it would use 0.1mm ultra-slim SIM cards, which sit on top of an existing SIM card to allow users to access services from competing operators.

However, Safaricom, which through its M-Pesa service dominates the Kenyan mobile money market, has complained to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) about the ultra-thin SIMs, saying they pose a security threat to subscribers.

Safaricom requested the CA to block Equity from issuing these SIM cards, which made the regulator tell the bank it may only begin its MVNO operations with normal SIM cards, while consultation on the matter has been ongoing for the last month.

“Equity Bank’s low-cost solution enables their ultra-slim SIM cards to run over the top of customers’ existing operator. By distributing the SIMs for free to its 8.7 million customers and with no switching costs, Equity Bank will be able to penetrate the market very quickly,” he said.

“The market dynamics in Kenya are unique, as Safaricom, a mobile operator, is the market leader in mobile money with M-Pesa. The ultra-slim SIM is Equity Bank’s strategy to capture market share in the lucrative mobile money market, where customers use a vast array of financial services such as loans, cross-border payments, and point-of-sale payments,” he added.

Chinese banks Wujin Rural Commercial Bank and Quanzhou City Commercial Bank have also launched m-banking solutions using ultra-slim SIMs, and Singaporean operator M1 is offering a dual-SIM solution based on the technology.

Source: itweb Africa