Fingerprint ID set to be mandatory
All mobile operators will have to introduce an online fingerprint ID system for new prepaid and postpaid mobile SIM card registration, with a tentative deadline set for next February.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), however, compelled all existing mobile users to put their fingerprints in the system on a voluntary basis for their own security benefit.
"We urge all mobile users to participate in the system to ensure greater security of the mobile banking channel and prevent the risk of fraud, which is likely to increase in a cashless society," said NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.
Beginning next February, fingerprint verification will be needed for mobile SIM card registration. (Photo by Srisamorn Phoosupanusorn)
Thailand has 103 million mobile subscribers, 14 million of whom use mobile banking services, he said.
Through a fingerprint enrolment process, mobile operators will scan each person's fingerprints and store the records on the NBTC's secure database server, said Mr Takorn.
Mobile operators will develop an application that verifies customers' fingerprints.
Mobile banking is a service provided by banks or other financial institutions as well as mobile operators that allows customers to conduct some financial transactions remotely using any mobile device, with no bank account required.
The popularity of mobile banking activities marks a significant trend taking place in banking.
But fraud and other criminal acts targeting telecommunication networks are also becoming increasingly sophisticated.
The NBTC's telecom committee approved the plan to use a fingerprint registration system in September.
Mr Takorn said the NBTC adopted the fingerprint system which was developed by the Engineering Faculty of Kasetsart University. The school won an auction held by the NBTC this month offering to supply the system for 15 million baht.
He said the fingerprint system would not create a financial burden on mobile operators because the investment can be deducted as a business expense from the universal service obligation (USO) fee operators pay annually to the NBTC.
Telecom operators have to share 5% of their total revenue with the NBTC. Of the total, 3.5% is paid for the USO fee and the remaining 1.25% goes to the licensing fee.
Mr Takorn insisted that the fingerprint system will complement the existing registration system. The regulator will not force all mobile users to register with the new system.
Banks and mobile operators have increasingly been urged to boost the standards for customer authentication systems in a bid to prevent fraud through mobile banking activities -- currently one of the most popular mobile services.
The concern follows several cases of fraud committed through mobile banking apps over the past several months.