Since the introduction of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act in 2001, governments and competent authorities are now able to impose the identification of SIM card users, particularly prepaid SIM cards which are the target of these regulations. This mostly concerns countries presenting some level of security risk requiring greater control of communications, particularly among users of prepaid cards, whose distribution was not initially subject to identification. 

RESPONDING TO AUTHENTICATION REQUIREMENTS 

Although practices are becoming more consistent with increasing adoption of these regulations, governments are free to define how they apply them. In some regions of the world, particularly the Middle East, mobile operators have chosen to systematically and immediately link user identification to activation of their cards on the network. This identification involves the collection of certain personal data from the purchaser (e.g. full name, date and place of birth and number of identity document), verification of certain aspects of that data (e.g. validity of the identity document), as well as the creation of a mobile contract between the operator and the purchaser. Some countries, particularly in Africa, have adopted a more flexible approach by limiting the identification process to simply collecting personal data together with the pairing of the SIM card as well as allowing operators longer to finalize subscriber identification before deactivating cards. Although there is generally no systematic verification of databases, governments must be able to access them whenever necessary. The political climate in a number of countries is encouraging them to step up measures to detect fraudulent documents which could be used for criminal or terrorist purposes. Some operators, for instance, are including biometric identification technology in their enrollment procedure, such as fingerprint collection. 

The reason for this inconsistent application is the additional human and financial burden placed on operators. Application of these regulations requires training of the teams responsible for gathering identity data as well as adequate hardware to collect, analyze and securely transfer that data to the operator’s IT system. Meanwhile, the customer journey is becoming more complex, including waiting times, concerns regarding the type of personal data collected and what it will be used for, etc.

COMBINING SIMPLICITY WITH SECURITY
WHILE REDUCING COSTS 

New “mobile” and “smart” solutions are now restoring operators’ flexibility. “Mobile” solutions can be used by salespeople on tablets and smartphones by simply downloading a secure app. 

“This solution means we simply need to scan the customer’s identity card and the SIM card identification code and then pair that data. According to the enrollment process established, the document’s MRZ (Machine Readable Zone) can be scanned to verify the authenticity of certain data and used to automatically pre-complete a subscription agreement. The information is then instantly analyzed and sent to a secure database specific to each operator,” explains Magali Fioux, a specialist in mobile enrollment solutions at OT.

All you need is a Wi-Fi or GSM (3G/4G) connection to send data instantly to the operator’s CRM or Information System.

“This is a portable solution, corresponding to the needs of street retail currently developing in some African and Asian countries, and one which can be deployed anywhere, anytime, with complete safety.” 

Simplicity and instant use are combined with another key advantage, for both operators and customers – the security of the operation. The data is captured and transmitted to the operator instantly via a secure server. If any of the information, such as the validity of the identity card, is found to be false, the salesperson receives an alert.

“The application sends the data via a secure server to the operator’s Information System, which the authorities are able to access if they wish,” continues Magali Fioux. “This considerably reduces the risk of human error. There is no loss or corruption of the information and above all the operator no longer needs to store the data locally.”

This electronic processing is also reassuring for end customers. Not only can they be more confident of their personal data not falling into the wrong hands, but they also benefit from the time saved by this automated operation (two to three minutes on average). 

“It definitely represents an economic gain for the operator. There’s no need for paper or a scanner, very limited equipment maintenance costs, and above all a single tool – the tablet or smartphone – which salespeople can also use to promote their mobile services,” adds Magali Fioux. 

REGISTER, IDENTIFY, ACTIVATE AND MANAGE! 

Equipment, maintenance, archiving security – the Smart Enrolment Prepaid solution developed by OT drastically reduces costs linked to the application of regulations. By combining this solution with other services offered by OT such as dynamic SIM card activation services at the time of their actual use, remote management of these cards and real-time monitoring of the quality of the user experience, mobile operators are able to provide high value-added services designed to optimize their performance and the customer experience.