Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has come up with a strong action against Airtel and its Airtel Payments Bank barring the two entity from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers through the process of eKYC (electronic-Know You Customer) and also eKYC of payments bank clients.
It is alleged the parent company used Aadhaar-eKYC based SIM verification process in opening payments bank accounts without the consent and knowledge of the subscribers.
Though the ban is temporary but the allegation is further said to be serious as Bharti Airtel has linked such payment bank accounts to the central government’s LPG subsidy scheme to receive subsidy money of the customers into the payments bank accounts.
This means for the time being, until further notice from UIDAI, the company will not be able to link mobile SIMs of the subscribers with Aadhaar number or carry out electronic-verification process.
Only alternate methods, if available, will be used to open Airtel Payments Bank and not through Aadhaar e-KYC.
Airtel spokesperson has confirmed to have received the temporary order from UIDAI and they are working with the authority to find an early resolution to the issue.
It is reported over 23 lakh customers have received LPG subsidy money up to Rs 47 crore in their Airtel Payments Bank accounts without knowing such accounts have been opened by them or any authority.
The 12-digit biometric Aadhaar number is highly sensitive and Supreme Court is currently looking into various aspects of it focusing mainly on ensuring security and privacy.
Airtel and its payment banks have learned violated several sections of Aadhaar Act, 2016, and could be punished with Rs 1 lakh per day fine as well as termination of authentication user agreements if found liable.
Airtel is the largest telecom operator in the country in terms of subscriber base and meanwhile, it is facing tough competition from Reliance Jio network. Considering the strength of rival service provider the company has launched its cheapest plan for prepaid customers, which is a recharge of Rs 199 will serve 1GB of 3G/4G mobile data along with unlimited local and STD calls.