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UIDAI extends Airtel’s Aadhaar-based eKYC SIM verification till 31 March


Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has extended the deadline for Airtel to use the biometric identity for re-verification of its mobile customers till 31 March.

The temporary relief for Airtel comes at a time when the deadline to link Aadhaar with mobile SIMs and saving accounts has also extended to 31 March on the apex court’s directives.

Airtel Payments Bank continues to be barred from 12 digits biometric-based e-KYC verification, reports Mint.

Last month, Sunil Bharti Mittal-led company was barred by UIDAI following allegations that Bharti Airtel was using the Aadhaar e-KYC-based SIM verification process to open payments bank accounts of its subscribers without their informed consent.

However, a week later UIDAI temporarily allowed Airtel to use Aadhaar for re-verification of its mobile customers after it returned Rs 138 crore of LPG subsidy remitted to the unsolicited payments bank accounts. The earlier deadline was January 10.

Following the UIDAI allegation, the Airtel Payments Bank terminated relationships with nearly 1,000 retailers. The crackdown came as the retailers failed to follow due process while signing up customers.

The company levied a penalty of around 50 times the commission paid on several retailers who violated the guidelines for the first time and removed repeat offenders from the network besides imposing a fine on them.

Amid the controversy, Bharti Airtel’s Payments Bank MD and CEO, Shashi Arora quit the firm, which has generated discussions inside the industry.

Earlier, UIDAI reviewed the Airtel mobile app, and observed that when the app is opened – a welcome message is accompanied by a pre-ticked consent box with a blurb “Upgrade or create my Payments Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC.”

UIDAI has also asked apex banking body Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Department of Telecom (DoT) and audit and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an audit to ascertain if Airtel’s systems and processes are in compliance with the Aadhaar Act or not.

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