Airtel Payments Bank has reportedly removed nearly 1,000 retailers from its network chain for not following the correct procedure while signing up customers. Airtel has conducted an internal investigation to minimise such errors in the future. For the unaware, Airtel recently received a temporary eKYC license suspension for opening Airtel Payments Bank account of customers without their notice.
People familiar with the matter told Economic Times that Airtel "levied a penalty of around 50 times the commission paid on several retailers who violated the guidelines for the first time, and removed repeat offenders from the network besides imposing a fine on them."
Furthermore, Airtel also warned all the retail partners of strict action would be taken for any violation of the guidelines. During Airtel's investigation, “it was observed that some of the retailers that were also acting as designated banking points had not informed customers about savings account opening and direct benefit transfer (DBT) receipts in an upfront manner. Wherever multiple violations have been found, relationships have been terminated,” said one of the people to the publication.
As of December, only 1,000 retailers were removed from the network, and the number may increase going forward. It is also revealed that Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank did not respond to the queries sent by ET. Earlier, UIDAI imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 crore on the payments bank, and it later allowed Bharti Airtel to resume Aadhaar-based e-KYC verification till January 10. It is unknown whether UIDAI will extend the license for Airtel or not.
The Aadhaar body UIDAI also asked Reserve Bank of India, Department of Telecommunications and PricewaterhouseCoopers consultancy firm to perform audits of Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank and check whether their systems, documents, and entire eKYC process are compliant with license conditions. These reports are expected to come out by January 10, following which UIDAI will decide the future of eKYC license of Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank.
Currently, the eKYC license of Airtel Payments Bank remained suspended, and Airtel has already deposited the Rs 2.5 crore penalty to the authority. It even returned the entire Rs 167 crore with 7.25% interest rate to 55.63 lakh beneficiaries.