Biometric registration slows down mobile subscriptions


The Communications Authority of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The number of mobile money subscriptions has been slowing down in the last three quarters after the introduction of biometric data registration, a report shows.

The Communications Authority of Kenya’s (CA) quarterly report shows that the uptake has been steadily declining since last year.

“The continued slow uptake of mobile subscriptions as observed in the previous quarter resulted from the decommissioning of the USSD customer acquisition channel and absolute adoption of the app channel for SIM registration,” said the CA in the report.

“As at December 31, 2021, the number of active mobile (SIM) subscriptions was 65.08 million compared to the 64.89 million subscriptions recorded by end of September representing a marginal increase of 0.30 per cent,” the report read in part.

The app channel ensures that SIM card registration records biometric data.

A report by the CA covering July-September 2021 shows that the number of mobile money subscriptions reduced by 0.2 per cent to stand at 64.9 million, attributed to an increase in inactive SIM cards as a result of subscribers defaulting on digital loans.

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The mobile penetration rate in the country stood at 133.6 per cent in 2021, an increase from 129.1 percent the year before.

This was aided by improved digital inclusion and the policies, which encourage ownership of multiple SIM cards.

With the designs of mobile phones becoming more adaptable to accommodate dual and multiple SIM cards, a person may have many lines registered under different telcos.

Digitisation has also prompted businesses to have SIM cards for payment of services, including Safaricom Lipa na M-Pesa for businesses and Internet service providers.

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“At the start of 2021, usage of mobile money services was expected to decline or slow down, following the lifting of some of the Covid-19 containment measures relating to the financial sector,” said the regulator.

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