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UIDAI allows Airtel to do e-KYC of mobile customers till March 31

Both Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank had come under fire after the Sunil Mittal-led firm allegedly opened accounts of its subscribers without seeking their 'informed consent'

Kiran Rathee  |  New Delhi 

Bharti Airtel

The has extended the conditional approval given to Bharti to conduct Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile subscribers till March 31.

However, the payments bank e-KYC licence will remain suspended and the operator cannot use the e-KYC and authentication service for opening bank accounts, wallet, DTH or any other service.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in November last year had barred from conducting Aadhaar-based e-KYC of its mobile customers and payments bank clients after reports emerged that payment bank accounts were opened for its mobile subscribers without "informed consent" and cooking gas subsidy worth crores of rupees was deposited into them.

However, the Aadhaar-issuing authority than granted a temporary approval to till January 10 to do e-KYC for its mobile customers. had also requested Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to submit a report regarding the case and also asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an audit of the company regarding the issue of opening bank accounts without "informed consent".

Sources said DoT and RBI are yet to submit the report whereas PricewaterhouseCoopers has submitted the audit report. The is likely to deliberate on the matter in February when it gets the reports from DoT and RBI.

Reacting to the extension of approval, an spokesperson said, "We can confirm that the has permitted Bharti to continue Aadhaar based e-KYC till March 31, 2018, subject to compliance to guidelines laid down by the authority."

The approval to was given on the condition that the operator would return Rs 138 crore of the cooking gas subsidy transferred into its subscribers' payment bank accounts to the original bank accounts held by them.

The had granted its conditional approval to keeping in mind that customers must link their Aadhaar numbers with their mobile phone numbers by March 31.

"We continue to engage with the authorities and have addressed all concerns that they have raised. Compliance to all guidelines is of paramount importance to us and we remain committed to this," the spokesperson added.

The case was a classic example about the misuse of Aadhaar e-KYC authentication or process violation by a corporate entity against the interests of its customers.

To avoid a repeat of Airtel-type cases, the last month directed banks to seek an explicit consent of the beneficiary before changing the account to which the government subsidy is being remitted.

First Published: Thu, January 11 2018. 19:35 IST