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Airtel secretly used Aadhaar to open payments bank A/Cs

New Delhi: The UIDAI has temporarily barred Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers using e-KYC process as well as e-KYC of payments bank clients. 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'.
UIDAI also took strong objection to allegations that such payments bank accounts are being linked to receive LPG subsidies. UIDAI, in an interim order, "suspended e-KYC licence key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect," sources with direct knowledge of the development said.
This essentially means that Airtel would not be able to, in the interim, carry out 'electronic-verification' or link mobile SIMs of its customers with their 12-digit biometric national ID Aadhaar through the efficient and paperless e-KYC (or electronic Know Your Customer) process of UIDAI. Also, Airtel Payments Bank will not be able to open a new account with Aadhaar e-KYC. However, accounts can be opened through alternate methods, if available.
"We can confirm that we have received 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," said an Airtel spokesperson. "We are engaging with the authorities 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," the spokesperson added. More than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received as many as Rs 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, which they did not know had been opened.
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