Following allegations of Bharti Airtel using Aadhaar eKYC-based process, intended for re verification of SIM cards, for opening accounts in Airtel Payments Bank without “informed consent”, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has temporarily suspended the company from carrying out electronic-verification using Aadhaar.
“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 Bank’s 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, any inconvenience to our customers is regretted,” an Airtel spokesperson said in response to a query.
The Department of Telecommunications has mandated all telecom operators to re-verify all existing subscribers using Aadhaar-based eKYC by February 6, 2018.
According to a senior government official, the UIDAI has suspended the e-KYC licence key, used for reaching out to the authority’s servers to authenticate the identity of any user, temporarily. The key was given to Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payments Bank Ltd under the Authentication User Agency Agreement signed between the companies and UIDAI in February 2015 and September 2016, respectively.
The official said that after the UIDAI received reports of Airtel allegedly opening payments bank accounts without user consent, it ordered an investigation over the incident. However, after repeated responses by Airtel to UIDAI’s notices, which the authority found to be “unsatisfactory”, it suspended Airtel’s access to the keys.