UIDAI suspended Airtel Payments Bank’s Licence e-KYC

Bharti Airtel got into big trouble after the UIDAI declared the suspension of Airtel Payments Bank and its Aadhar based SIM verification of mobile customers using e-KYC as well as e-KYC of payments bank clients. There was accusation on Bharti Airtel for using the Aadhar e-KYC based SIM verification process to access payments bank accounts of its holder without their knowledge. UIDAI also actively objected to the plea that such payments account is being linked to LPG subsidy.

UIDAI in a provisional order “suspended e-KYC license key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect”. This means that Airtel would not be able to operate the task of electronic- verification or link the 12-digit biometric national ID Aadhar with its new customers for the time till it’s suspended. As a result, the Airtel Payments Bank will not be able to open a fresh account through paperless e-KYC. However, accounts can be opened through alternate methods, if available.

When UIDAI reviewed Airtel mobile app, they got to know that when the app is opened along with the welcome message a pre-ticked consent box is instantly flared on the screen which states, “Upgrade or create my Airtel Payment Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC.” This led to disruptions of Aadhar act and regulations which will result in penalties for Airtel.

The penalty will be based on the numbers of the day the rules were violated and could be around 2 crores. UIDAI official said, “According to the Aadhaar Act, the penalty is a few lakhs for each day of violation. A notice has already been sent to the company and a final amount will be decided after PwC – which has been engaged by us”.