Norwegian telecom giant Telenor angered customers by announcing it would start charging users every time they access the Bank ID function on their mobile phones from May 1. Customers vented their anger on social media, and Telenor admitted some have already cancelled their phone services and left the company.
Bank ID is an electronic security device which helps verify users’ identities. The device gives time-dependent access codes needed to log onto online or mobile phone banking, or to confirm an electronic transaction. The downside is users must remember to keep the small plastic device on them whenever they might need to make a transaction. Some phone companies including Telenor offer mobile Bank ID, which incorporates the device into the phone’s SIM card.
From the start of May, Telenor said it would charge NOK 0.49 each time a customer requests a mobile Bank ID, reported newspaper Aftenposten. The average customer uses the function 12 times a month. Across Telenor and subsidiary company Djuice’s 260,000 customers, profits are estimated at NOK 18 million (USD 3 million) per year.
“We understand that the customers react when we go over to take payment for something that today is free,” said Telenor Mobile’s head of information, Anders Krokan. “The decision stands, but we must make an evaluation of the consequences when we get to look at it a little over time.”
Krokan said the charges were necessary to cover the expenses of developing and running the mobile Bank ID service, but would not comment on whether Telenor would drop the charges if too many customers leave. “I will not say anything about such a possibility. I recall there’s still a free solution if customers use the code brick which they got from their bank.”
NetCom, Telenor’s major competitor, said it had no plans to follow suit. Bank ID’s communications manager Hege Steinsland said no other mobile service providers have indicated they too will start charging customers.