Foreigners buying SIM cards in Thailand will have their faces scanned and matched against their passport photographs.

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The telecom regulator will introduce biometric checks nationwide for mobile telephone users who register their SIM cards from Dec 15 in a bid to stamp out fraudulent electronic transactions.

The new rules require users to either have their fingerprints verified or their faces scanned.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission first launched the system in June in the South where a separatist insurgency has persisted for more than a decade, killing more than 6,500 people since 2004.

Officials say insurgents in the largely ethnic Malay Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat have used pre-paid SIM cards to trigger bombs.

Biometric registration in the South was adopted for national security reasons but elsewhere in Thailand it is aimed at mobile banking security, NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith told a news conference on Monday.

„This is not aimed at tracking users, but enhancing security, especially in case of mobile payments,“ said Takorn, the secretary-general of the

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