In what could be a big relief for the Banks and telecom firms, Aadhaar based authentication of customers through QR codes is set to be resumed soon.
This time it will be allowed in offline mode. The authentication process will stand scrutiny, according to UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey. All the regulators are on the same page in respect to this, he added.
The process will require a change in existing infrastructure to accommodate with offline mode. However, the private firms would not have access to the Aadhaar database, said the ET report.
The move will serve as big relief for the banks and telecom firms, who were asked two months ago to stop enrolling customers through online authentication using the biometric database by the Supreme Court.
The ruling led to an upsurge in customer acquisition cost for these firms. With Aadhaar, the cost was estimated to be around Rs 30-35 per new subscriber. After the SC judgment, the customer acquisition cost has risen to ten-fold.
Once downloaded from the Aadhaar website, the QR code can be used in the offline mode without revealing 12-digit Aadhaar number.
In September this year, the SC had struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, not allowing private firms to access the Aadhaar database for verification purposes.
The Apex Court in its ruling had said that Aadhaar is constitutionally valid but would not be mandatory for services provided by banks and telecom firms. Though, the court allows the use of Aadhaar by govt agencies such as the income tax department.
Meanwhile, the govt is planning to bring amendments to the Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to provide legal backing for mobile numbers and bank accounts to be linked to Aadhaar on a voluntary basis. The ministry of electronics & information technology has reportedly moved a proposal to this effect.
The govt has time and again emphasised that privacy concern over Aadhaar is a bit overstated. It claims to have saved Rs 90k crore in subsidies by using Aadhaar in 2017.
Till date, over 1.22 billion people have been enrolled under Aadhaar.