Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank, the country’s first payments bank, have been temporarily banned from conducting eKYC of customers using Aadhaar. The stringent action has been taken by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on the basis of allegations that the telecom major was using Aadhaar-based SIM verification of customers to open payments bank accounts without their “informed consent”.
Furthermore, many Airtel customers have complained that the company was redirecting LPG subsidies to these accounts without their consent.
According to reports, the UIDAI has passed an interim order dated December 15, suspending the eKYC licence key of Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank.
Commenting on the development, a spokesperson for Airtel stated, “We can confirm that we have received the interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked eKYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel payment banks onboarding of customers.”
As a result of this ban, Airtel will not be able to conduct e-verification of its telecom customers, nor will it be allowed to link customers’ SIM to Aadhaar during the interim period. Additionally, Airtel Payments Bank has been barred from opening new accounts using Aadhaar-based eKYC. It will, however, be able to open bank accounts through “alternate methods”, if available.
If implicated, the New Delhi-headquartered telecom giant could incur a penalty upwards of $311.4K (INR 2 Cr), depending on the number of days that the UIDAI rules were violated for.