UIDAI-Airtel Payments Bank case: Company claims no wrongdoing, here’s how you can avoid the trap

Despite the verification process being less cumbersome and loaded with various advantages, it’s always expected of the customers to read the instructions carefully and only then provide confirmation.

In FY2017, Airtel DTH reported revenue of Rs 34.3 bn and Ebitda of Rs 12.2 bn (35.6% margin). (PTI)

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) temporarily barred Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar linked e-KYC verification of SIMs and bank clients. More than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received as many as Rs 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, which they did not know had been opened. Sources said it was brought to the notice of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that at the time of mobile verification using Aadhaar e-KYC, the Airtel retailers were also opening Airtel Payments Bank accounts, without the informed consent of the user. Government LPG subsidy was also getting transferred to these accounts, without their consent. The company however responded by saying no bank account was opened without the consent of the customers and additional safeguards have been introduced. “We can confirm that we have received an interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e-KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel Payment Bank’s onboarding of customers. We are engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows. Being compliant to all guidelines is paramount to us. In the interim, any inconvenience to our customers in regretted.” added Airtel spokesperson. Keeping the entire incident in mind, here we come up with some pointers that will guide you to remain more careful while completing the know your customer (KYC) process and avoid any trap.

Read instructions properly

UIDAI’s e-KYC services can be used by customers to go through electronic verification of their identity, thereby reducing the amount of time that would otherwise be spent on completing the process physically while opening a new trading account or bank account, or availing a new mobile connection, and others. However, the customers still need to be vigilant. Despite the verification process being less cumbersome and loaded with various advantages, it’s always expected of the customers to read the instructions carefully and only then provide confirmation – be it online or in form of paper documents. Majority of the customers provide their go ahead without going through the instructions in detail. There is every possibility, or a trap laid down by a company, that a customer may end of applying for a number of unwanted services provided by the company without his consent. At times in case of paper-KYC, the retailers also discourage customers to fill in their personal details to save time only to complete the formalities later by themselves, resulting in availing the undesirable services.

Welcome message

As per media reports, when UIDAI reviewed the Airtel mobile app, it found that when the app is opened, along with the welcome message a pre-ticked consent box is momentarily flashed on the screen which states “Upgrade or create my Airtel Payment Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC.”

Direct Benefit Transfer

The government is also reportedly looking to overhaul its process for linking direct benefit transfers (DBT) to bank accounts and Aadhaar, as per The Economic Times report. Under the existing scenario, existing subsidy amount is automatically overwritten with the latest Aadhaar-linked bank account. As much as Rs 167 crore was deposited by 31.21 lakh customers in their Airtel Payments Bank accounts which were activated without their informed consent.

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