Mobily blames SIM fingerprint registration requirement for Q4 loss

Saudi Arabian operator Mobily has revealed a net loss for Q4 2016, which it put down to the cost of implementing a government requirement for SIMs to be registered with fingerprints.

Reuters reports Mobily, which is part-owned by Etisalat, recorded a loss of around $19 million, having managed a small profit in the year-ago quarter. This was still better than expected by Reuters’ panel of analysts.

The government initiative that required all new SIMs to be registered with a fingerprint was announced at the start of 2016 and appears to be primarily a security measure, and to prevent the acquisition of SIMs using false identities. By the middle of last year the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced it was obliging operators to disconnect any SIMs that were not registered with a fingerprint.

A result of all this has been a reduction in the number of subscribers in Saudi Arabia, although the population penetration is still well in excess of 100% – i.e. the average person has more than one subscription.

This isn’t the only upheaval Mobily is currently having to endure. Late last year the management agreement between Mobily and Etisalat, which owns 27% of the company expired and has yet to be renewed. At the start of this year Mobily appointed Ahmed Abdelsalam as its new Chief Exec, possibly with the intention of going it alone from now on.

One comment

  1. Avatar Kierin Ombu 19/01/2017 @ 4:42 pm

    This is similar to what operators in Nigeria have experienced with subscriber registration.
    I hope the Saudi Regulator has gotten what it requires from mobile operators right, unlike the case of Nigeria where there was a lot of toing and froing from the Regulator who kept on changing the requirements for subscriber registration which hit mobile operators bottom-line severely in the years the Regulator was trying to figure out exactly what it required for subscriber registrations.

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