BIO-key International, a provider of fingerprint biometric identification solutions, and SW Global, a provider of IT services throughout Africa, are implementing BIO-key's fingerprint biometric technology as part of the Nigerian SIM (NSIM) Card Registration program for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the independent National Regulatory Authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.
The NSIM program has classified and biometrically enrolled the purchasers of over 110 million SIM cards, making it one of the largest biometric identity management projects in the world.
The Nigerian SIM Card Registration program was conceived to combat fraud and criminal activity by securing the identities of all Mobile Network subscribers nationwide. The goal was to implement a solution that is secure, cost effective, widely accepted, and integrates with other identity databases in Nigeria. The process includes enrolling subscribers and associating their identity with the ownership of SIM cards and mobile phone numbers. BIO-key's fingerprint technology automates the detection of multiple identity holders, and ensures a permanent physical connection of every person to a single identity.
Nigeria has an estimated 110 million SIM cards in use and issues approximately 8 million new SIMs annually through multiple Mobile Network Operators. Historically, most of the issued SIM cards were for prepaid lines and were not registered before issuance. These anonymous mobile lines have been used in perpetrating fraudulent acts and other crimes without a means of tracing the activity back to the responsible party. NSIM intends to put an end to this anonymity to combat fraud and crime.
Dr. Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the NCC, at a recent Security Summit convened by the Office of National Security Advisor, stated, "In making further analysis and consultations, the Commission became very convinced that registration of SIM Cards with full biometric identity of every subscriber in the network will go a long way in assisting the security agencies to fight crimes against lives and properties. SIM Card registration also provides a good opportunity for the nation to accelerate the achievement of a National Registry of its Citizens which has eluded this nation for a long time."
Anthony Nwachukwu, SW Global Limited COO, stated, "The National SIM Registration program is an important milestone for the country, in that it can potentially provide every Nigerian citizen with a secure identity for accessing public and private services becoming available through mobile telephony. This project is consistent with our philosophy since the company's founding nearly one decade ago -- to streamline and modernize systems in the developing world to close the digital divide and foster transparency, accountability and opportunity across all segments of society."
"Through our partnership with SW Global, we are delivering one of the largest commercial/civil identification programs in the world using our core WEB-key AFIS biometric engine. When the database of registered users is fully scrubbed, each SIM card will be associated with a user and anonymous SIMs, which many times are used for criminal purposes, will no longer be active," stated Mike DePasquale, BIO-key CEO. "Also, the SIM Registration dataset can become a platform for additional services such as mobile banking and electronic payments, since the NCC has the ability to positively identify each individual tied to a mobile device. The citizens of Nigeria will be using state-of-the-art technology providing better security and functionality than most countries around the globe. We plan on capitalizing on our success with SW Global and the NCC in marketing this solution to other countries that have similar requirements, leading to additional revenue opportunities for BIO-key," continued DePasquale.