Aadhaar body, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has taken a strong action on Bharti Airtel by suspending its e-KYC license and the license of Airtel Payments Bank. Although the license seise is a temporary one from UIDAI, it indeed has taken a high action on Airtel, at least when compared to the past.
UIDAI also revealed the reason which forced it to take such an action. A report from PTI says that the telco is opening Airtel Payments Bank account using the eKYC SIM verification process without their notice or without their permission. "The action follows allegations of Bharti Airtel using the Aadhaar-eKYC based SIM verification process to open payments bank accounts of its subscribers without their 'informed consent'," says the report.
UIDAI also gave a strong answer to allegations which suggested that payments bank accounts are linked to receive LPG subsidy. UIDAI in an interim order "suspended e-KYC licence key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect."
The suspension of eKYC license means Airtel cannot carry out electronic verification of SIM cards using the 12-digit Aadhaar identity till the temporary ban lift. Furthermore, the big blow is Airtel can't even re-verify the customers using Aadhaar, which is a big blow for the telco as the deadline for re-verifying the mobile numbers using Aadhaar is set for March 31, 2018. This essentially means that customers have to get an Airtel SIM card using the standard paperwork, and waiting until 24 hours for the activation.
As stated, Airtel Payments Bank e-KYC license is also temporarily banned, and the operator will not be able to open a new account using Aadhaar e-KYC. The report also adds that Airtel Payments Bank account can be opened through alternate methods, if available.
The publication also approached Airtel regarding this license ban and he stated as follows: "We can confirm that we have received an 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 with all guidelines is paramount to us. In the interim, any inconvenience to our customers is regretted," the spokesperson added.
It was taken to UIDAI's notice that more than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received Rs 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, and the sad part is the customers are not aware of the matter that their Airtel Payments Bank account had been opened.
Taking action on the same, UIDAI reportedly sent the first notice on September 18 asking Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank explain the matter. The telco gave an unsatisfactory response, which made UIDAI sent another notice on November 24. The response from Airtel went unsatisfactorily even on second notice too, which made the Aadhaar body to go ahead and ban the license.
In the first response, both Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank stated that they are not doing without the customer's notice, but UIDAI kept on receiving reports from consumers.
Currently, the license ban time is unknown. "UIDAI may consider revocation of suspension or decide further necessary action upon receipt of the report," added the PTI report.