Big three reject National Credit Bureau data system

Big three reject National Credit Bureau data system

Major mobile operators are being asked to share data from mobile usage with the credit bureau's system. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Major mobile operators are being asked to share data from mobile usage with the credit bureau's system. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

The three major mobile operators are opposing a plan to join their customers' mobile data with citizen data from the National Credit Bureau (NCB) system.

The latest push is led by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), focusing on cases of information exchange between the telecom and finance sectors.

Additionally, the operators are urging the telecom regulator to talk to the Finance Ministry about demarcating mobile services as a separate category from other utilities under the World Bank's request for information with which to evaluate Thailand's ease of doing business.

Korkij Danchaivichit, the NBTC deputy secretary-general, said the commission spoke to the mobile operators several times about getting their consent to connect general data from mobile phones with the NCB system.

The big three operators, which provide service to 98% of mobile users in the country, remain opposed to the concept, despite the fact that the data could be used for other purposes, especially for neutral benefit to the state such as evaluating the ease of doing business.

According to the informal discussions with representatives of the operators last week, Mr Korkij said the mobile operators contended that they had no idea what benefit they would gain by connecting their data with the NCB.

On the contrary, the operators are most likely to pay more fees in the future, such as member registration fees and fees on specific transaction data when they need to acquire it from the NCB system.

"The mobile operators claimed their operations have no need for customer data from banks or financial institutes, even e-wallet services that facilitate people who have no bank account," Mr Korkij said.

The operators urged the Finance Ministry through the NBTC to reconsider, he said.

The operators have their own data collection and analytics processes, and mobile services have increasingly developed a role in other industries and people's digital lifestyles.

Instead, the operators want to jointly establish their own clearing house for mobile users' data, which would be connected with the NCB. Financial institutes and banks may have to pay a fee through the clearing house when they need the data of mobile users.

The operators also would allow only mobile usage data in their postpaid system, commonly connecting with the NCB system, because the prepaid system has no unpaid debt.

Currently, the postpaid system accounts for 15-20% of total subscriptions. The mobile operators face unpaid debt only in the postpaid system or some cases of violation of WiFi router installation contracts.

The NCB chief recently insisted on gathering data from utility service providers, starting with mobile usage. Such data is available from the three major mobile operators: Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) and Total Access Communication Plc (DTAC).

According to the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business (EODB) project for 2020, the NCB is required to provide additional information from utility companies, retailers and merchants, and trade creditors.

Utility service providers include those engaged in telecoms, electricity, tap water, gas and similar services.

Retailers and merchants are defined as department stores, furniture shops, car dealers and others, while trade creditors refer to those providing commercial credit to corporate clients and supplier credit.

Thailand's ranking among 190 economies in the World Bank's 2019 EODB report fell a notch to 27th, though its overall score improved by 1.06 points to 78.45.

Thailand's score, an absolute measure of the country's progress towards global best practices, rose from 77.39 in the previous year.

Korkij: Personal info would be protected

Mr Korkij said he will bring up the operators' counter-proposal during the next discussion with representatives of the NCB or the Finance Ministry.

The NBTC is amending details of the Telecom Business Act to allow general data of mobile phone usage to be used for other purposes, especially for evaluating the ease of doing business.

Currently, the Telecom Business Act allows operators to use the general data of their customers only for telecom service purposes.

The general data, such as amount or duration of a customer's mobile usage each day, could be utilised for improved efficiency of some public services such as transport through innovative technology like Internet of Things connectivity.

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