Airtel blocked from Aadhaar platform after being accused of misusing data
In its strongest action yet, the UIDAI has temporarily barred Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers using e-KYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) 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 subsidy.
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 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 though 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.
When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson said: “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.”
“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,” the spokesperson said.