Linking the central registry to Digital India will benefit the poor, make buying financial products easier
The proposed central Know Your Customer (KYC) registry to aid tracking of illegal wealth is a good idea as it can also give consumers of financial products/services welcome relief from the need to submit KYC details for every purchase or service availed. The registry will glean data from PAN, Aadhaar, passport and driving licence (among others) for establishing identity and address. It is surprising that despite the need being felt for quite some time, the government woke up only after the Special Investigative Team on black money suggested this in its report on tackling black money. The Centre will, however, need to ensure that the data is utilised in a secure manner and that any investigation of illegal wealth is started only after a case’s credibility has been thoroughly assessed.
In fact, the government should keep the focus primarily on the registry being an online KYC source. Given many schemes under the Digital India programme would require such details for the majority of the population, it would be a good idea to make the KYC registry a part of the initiative. This would also solve one of the biggest concerns relating to KYC: While the well-off still manage to provide these details, the poor often fail to avail of financial products/services because submitting KYC documents is a challenge. A national KYC registry, attached with Digital India, will not differentiate on the basis of earnings or buying capacity, but for this to gain ground the internet penetration will have to grow at a rapid pace from just 330 million today.