stc Bahrain launches AI facial recognition for eSIM activation

stc Bahrain launches AI facial recognition for eSIM activation

stc Bahrain has launched what it claims is the first instant mobile eSIM activation service that uses AI-powered facial recognition to authorise users, one month after Bahrain's telecoms regulator issued guidelines for facial recognition usage in telecoms services.

Subscribers can use the My stc BH app to buy a new eSIM and download it instantly. The app enables users to choose their favorite number and preferred mobile plan.

After that, stc subscribers can activate the eSIM instantly by capturing a live photo using their smartphone's camera for identity verification. Once facial recognition software on the backend verifies the customer’s ID, the eSIM is activated and ready to use.

The telco says this makes the remote activation process both easier and more secure. It also eliminates the need for users to present or upload documents, visit a physical branch or wait for a delivery agent to come and authenticate and/or register their fingerprint.

"By leveraging AI face recognition technology and eSIM capabilities, our existing and new subscribers can get an eSIM number online and activate it without visiting any stc outlet," said stc Bahrain CEO Eng. Nezar Banabeela in a statement. “Our aim is to empower customers by offering a seamless digital experience that enhances convenience and efficiency.”

stc also credited Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) for supporting the facial recognition activation service, though it gave no details what that involved.

Last month, the TRA issued a position paper updating its official Electronic Solution Requirements document to include use of facial recognition technology.

Under the updated guidelines, among other things, telecoms players in Bahrain can only use facial recognition technology for identity verification of subscribers. Telcos must also clearly inform subscribers in advance that facial recognition data will be collected and processed, what specific data is being collected, and that it will only be used for ID purposes during the onboarding process. They must also obtain subscriber consent first and provide an easy opt-out option.

Telcos must also enact explicit policies prohibiting the use of facial data for any purposes beyond identity verification, and ensuring that the data is not processed for marketing, surveillance, or any other unrelated purpose. Use of facial recognition also must also comply with relevant data privacy and protection laws.


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