Monthly Archives: July 2014

Why Safaricom is afraid of Sim Overlay Technology proposed by Equity Bank

So hardly 2 days ago I wrote this piece about how winter was coming  MPESA and the looming Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). and today to my shock the news was back on with safaricom writing a letter to the Central Bank. I suggest you read the earlier link before reading this as it may be coupled to the first post.


Equity bank with finserve know for sure no Kenyan will ditch their current safaricom Line in favour of whatever carrier the MVNO will ride on…That is quite elementary my dear watson… so Equity bank is instead opting for a newer technology instead called Sim Ovelay. Let me explain what that is to begin with/. The SIM  is  paper-thin and is embedded with a chip. Users overlay it on their primary SIM card, regardless of the network, and can subsequently receive services from two mobile service providers simultaneously. Its use means Equity Bank does not have to issue its own SIM cards but could ride on the existing ones. The two videos here will demonstrate that:

Safaricom’s major concern is the security of , M-Pesa, which it says would be vulnerable to attacks since the other sim is the one in direct contact to the phone and acts as a medium. You have to hand it to Equity on this though but I agree with them here. since primarily the other Sim is acting as a transport layer to the second one then you can have a denial of service on MPESA if the wrote the code on the card well.

For example they could write code (JAVA code for java card) that responds on external stimuli to to trigger parts of the main operating code to do so selectively say give MPESA bound communication a 30 second delay for deposits and 5 min delay for withdraws. Meaning the STK app that MPESA resides on would time out due to this and you would have to do it over and over again. or cleverly do a count of the tries and if you do 3 retries remove the lag and allow instant communication or after 5 randm retries…I mean I can write said code and I dont even work for them so you can imagine someone whose sole job would be to create the overlay SIM..but then again its a big maybe.

Finserve Africa Ltd was in April granted an MVNO licence alongside Mobile Pay Ltd and Zioncell. Equity Bank plans to use the Finserve licence to roll out mobile banking services independent of any operator. Customers will also be given data and voice services on the network.

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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Uncategorized