State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has launched an alternate digital KYC process for issuing new connections across various circles, a top official has said. The telecom PSU has informed the Department of Telecom (DoT) about the new system which has been rolled out, Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI. “We have conveyed that we have launched the new system across all our circles and it has stabilised,” Shrivastava said. Last week, large private telecom operators including Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel said they have begun rolling out ‘alternate digital KYC (know your customer) process for new connections, which will replace Aadhaar-based electronic verification process.
Bharti Airtel has started rolling out the alternate digital KYC in select circles including Delhi, UP (East) and UP (West) with plans to extend to other locations in the coming days. Vodafone Idea has also confirmed its new digital KYC process is live and being rolled out nationally, and added that the DoT instructions allow for the provisional rollout of digital KYC. Reliance Jio sources, too, had indicated that the operator has a plan on alternate digital KYC and will roll it out soon.
However, it is not clear if telecom service providers are, for now, simultaneously continuing Aadhaar eKYC for verification of new subscribers — a breather they have sought from the government while the new system is set in place. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar, the Telecom Department had issued detailed instructions to telcos on stopping the use of Aadhaar-based electronic-KYC (eKYC) and had asked them to report compliance by November 5.
But the operators, subsequently, approached the government requesting that they are allowed to continue with the Aadhaar-based eKYC process till November 20, while they implement the new digital process.
The Supreme Court order of September restricts the use of Aadhaar authentication by private entities in the absence of a legal provision. On October 26, the telecom department asked operators to stop using Aadhaar for electronic verification of existing mobile phone customers as well as for issuing new connections to comply with the order of the apex court.
The DoT also took note of the fact that the industry had mooted an alternate process for KYC which entailed customer acquisition forms to be embedded with a live photo of the subscriber and scanned images of proof of identity and proof of address — digitising the end-to-end process for on-boarding of new mobile subscribers and making it paperless.
Accordingly, all telcos were asked by the DoT to ensure the readiness of their systems and offer the proof of concept of the proposed digital process by November 5 for approval.