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Thailand to fight mobile fraud with fingerprints

Thailand to fight mobile fraud with fingerprints
Starting next year, Thailand will require new mobile-phone subscribers to submit their fingerprints in a bid to reduce online banking fraud. Photo: The Daily Telegraph

Thailand to fight mobile fraud with fingerprints

BANGKOK — Starting next year, Thailand will require new mobile-phone subscribers to submit their fingerprints in a bid to reduce online banking fraud.

All mobile operators will have to introduce the online fingerprint ID system for new prepaid and postpaid mobile SIM card registration, with a tentative deadline set for next February.

Existing mobile users are also part of the plan, being urged to submit their fingerprints on a voluntary basis, said the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

“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.

Thailand has 103 million mobile subscribers, 14 million of whom use mobile banking services, he said.

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 and 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.

But fraudsters targeting telecommunication networks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. There have been several cases of fraud committed through mobile banking apps over the past several months.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC adopted the fingerprint system developed by the engineering faculty of Kasetsart University.

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 per cent of their total revenue with the NBTC. Of the total, 3.5 per cent is paid for the USO fee, and the remaining 1.25 per cent goes to the licensing fee.

Mr Takorn insisted that the fingerprint system would 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 of customer authentication systems in a bid to prevent fraud through mobile banking activities, which are currently some of the most popular mobile services. BANGKOK POST