Bharti Airtel, which operates Airtel Payments Bank, will take harsh and appropriate actions against erring retail partners who open accounts without following the due process, the company said on Wednesday. “In case a customer wants to report that an Airtel Payments Bank account have been opened without her consent, she can contact us by calling 8800688006 or sending SMS ‘Care’ to 8448984489,” said a spokesperson of Airtel Payments Bank. This follows the company being issued notice earlier this month by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) asking it to explain why action shouldn’t be taken against the firm for allegedly opening payments bank accounts without seeking consent of those customers who opted for Aadhaar-based mobile SIM verification and then transferring the LPG subsidy to that account without the consent of the consumer. UIDAI had first issued notices to Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payments bank highlighting the issue in September.
Bharti Airtel said it has responded to the notice and is working towards clarifying the factual position. “We would like to highlight that re-verification of a customer’s mobile number with Aadhaar and the opening of Airtel Payments Bank savings accounts are two independent transactions with completely separate and well defined processes, carried on by Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank, respectively,” the spokesperson explained.
Airtel Payments Bank claims that it has laid down the process for opening of accounts, which are to be opened only after taking the explicit consent from the customer. “A separate consent for direct benefit transfer (DBT) is taken from the customer, in case she wishes to receive the DBT in the payments bank account. The customer is duly informed about the consent being sought and also after it is received. Further to ensure transparency, customers are informed via SMS as well as through an automated call in vernacular language in each case. Regular updates and free transaction alerts are sent to all customers on debits, credits and monthly interest payouts in their accounts,” the spokesperson added.
According to the payments bank it does not levy any charges for opening, managing or even closing of accounts. A similar process is followed in case of DBT withdrawals. All DBT amounts can be withdrawn at any of the over 500,000 Airtel payments bank outlets with zero cash withdrawal charges, said the company.
Bharti Airtel first launched payments bank pilot in Rajasthan in November last year, which was followed by an official roll-out in January.