Updated at December 21, 2017:

UIDAI on Thursday has allowed Bharati Airtel Ltd to resume Aadhaar based e-KYC verification till 10 January 2018. However, they can only use the facility for verification of SIM cards and not for verifying Airtel Payments Bank accounts.

UIDAI has asked RBI, DoT and audit & consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers India to prepare an audit of Bharti Airtel with respect to its system, processes and any other aspect as may be identified by RBI and DoT to ensure that the company is in compliance with its licence conditions.

This decision came after Airtel credited back Rs 138 crore of funds under DBTS to original accounts of 55.63 lakh beneficiaries. UIDAI also issued strict rules asking banks and the NPCI to ensure prior consent of beneficiaries before switching bank accounts linked with DBTS schemes.

Our original story from Thursday, December 21, 2017, follows:

UIDAI has temporarily suspended Airtel from using Aadhaar e-KYC for SIM card and Payments Bank account verification. The decision came following an allegation in which Airtel was misusing e-KYC authentication. UIDAI has taken the allegation seriously and the order to suspend the license came with immediate effect.

 “Suspended e-KYC licence key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect,” an interim order by UIDAI

e-KYC Misuse Allegation

Govt of India has recently made Aadhaar verification and reverification of SIM cards mandatory along with other services. The subscribers have to visit the carrier’s outlet, showroom or service centre to carry out the process. However, many of these carriers possess Payments Bank license from RBI. So they are utilizing the opportunity to onboard customers into their banks. The customers informed consent for opening a bank account wasn’t taken while performing this side-by-side authentication.

UIDAI Suspends Airtel’s Aadhaar e-KYC Licence Key Over Misuse

The users were unaware of this new bank account until the following happened. LPG customers throughout the country discovered that they weren’t getting subsidies to the old bank account. When enquired, they found that the authority is crediting subsidies to the new/latest linked bank account.

The NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) is responsible for facilitating cash transfer of subsidies like LPG to customers bank account. What happened happened here is, NPCI canceled the old bank account and started sending subsidies to the latest bank account linked with Aadhaar. Now Bharti Airtel is one such carrier who misused the Aadhaar authentication for onboarding customers to their Airtel Payments Bank.

Airtel’s Response

When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson responded “We can confirm that we have received interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e-KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel payment banks onboarding of customers. We are engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows. Being compliant to all guidelines is paramount to us. In the interim, we regret any inconvenience to our customers,”

Temporary Suspension

Following the allegation, UIDAI has suspended Airtel from using Aadhaar for e-KYC license key. This will affect their verification and re-verification of SIM card and bank accounts with Aadhaar e-KYC. More than 23 lakh LPG customers reported that their subsidies amounting Rs 47 crore got credited to Airtel Payments Bank. Now, UIDAI’s suspension of Airtel’s Aadhaar license key will send a strong message to others who misuse the facility. In the end Aadhaar/NPCI should improve their system allowing customers to choose one bank account intact as primary. Meanwhile, such issues are causing delay in implementing the Aadhaar system countrywide. Hope the article was informative, Peace!

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