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Getting a new prepaid SIM and top-ups will be more troublesome next year

Malaysia Prepaid SIM and Top up Registration Guidelines

Getting a new prepaid SIM is fairly easy in Malaysia. With only an IC or a passport, you can sign up for a new starter pack and start using it straight away within a few minutes. Because of this easy process, there are many cases with regards to misuse of prepaid SIM cards. To curb such abuse, MCMC will be implementing a new guideline on registration of prepaid public cellular services which will be enforced next year.

This was brought up during CFM’s (Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia) Annual General Meeting today and they have pledged support for this new initiative. According to former CFM Chairman, Megat Ishak, this new guideline will protect consumer’s data from being misused for criminal purposes.

Beginning 1 January 2018, new prepaid customers would need to provide more information during the registration process. This would be applicable to all users including local Malaysian citizens, foreigners and tourists. Below is a list of required details for new signups:

Malaysian Citizens
1. Full name as per identification document
2. Permanent address as per identification document
3. Mailing address
4. Identification number as per identification document
5. Any other information as may be required by the Commission

Foreigners
1. Full name as per passport
2. Passport number
3. Passport issuing country
4. Company name and address as provided in work permit document (Workers)
5. Student identification document with university address (Students)
6. Mailing address
7. Any other information as may be required by the Commission

Tourist (Visiting Malaysia for less than 3 months)
1. Full name as per passport
2. Hotel or temporary residential address
3. Passport number
4. Passport issuing country
5. Any other information as may be required by the Commission

For verification, consumers would need to provide proof of mailing address with a utility bill that’s issued in the previous month. This may include water, electricity, cable/satellite, TV or broadband subscription. For tourists, they would need to provide proof of their hotel/residential address which could be in a form of a hotel booking or reservation.

Previously, each user can subscribe up to 10 mobile numbers under one name. Effective from 1 June 2017, everyone is limited to 5 SIM cards per service provider. When it comes to verification, it must be done with an automated platform which could be in a form of an OCR scanner, biometrics or MyKad reader. Manual registrations are not allowed and consumers may report such practices to CFM or MCMC. Registrations should be free of charge and no provider is allowed to charge their customers extra for registration.

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During registration, photocopy of documents are not allowed and the verification must be based on original documents only. To ensure that there’s no misuse of your information, all prepaid providers must provide a free portal or an app for consumers to check for any SIMs registered under their name.

Probably the most troublesome part is when you purchase top-ups or reloads for your prepaid account. With this new guideline, consumers would need to provide an ID for verification before they are allowed to perform a reload. Currently, there are no such checks in place and anyone can buy a reload with no questions asked regardless if it’s offline or online. Unfortunately, the verification process for reloads isn’t finalised yet but it will be implemented once the system is ready.

While we can agree that registration process can be made stricter to curb false registration, the process of verifying ID when buying top-ups can be a hassle. At the moment, there are many channels where you can buy a top-up which include online banking, e-commerce and convenience stores. Once this guideline is enforced, there’s a possibility that the number of channels to buy prepaid top-ups might be reduced. It is worth pointing out that the system isn’t finalised yet and we hope that it would be as seamless as possible especially for online purchases.

Since new prepaid registration would require proof of address and biometric verification, this might affect prepaid providers that sell most of their starter packs online. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments below.

Alexander Wong