India’s Aadhaar authority has temporarily barred telecom major Bharti Airtel and its payments bank service from using the biometric identification to verify users. The action follows allegations that Airtel uses Aadhaar details to establish e-KYC (Know Your Customer) credentials of users and open their accounts on Airtel Payments Bank without their consent, PTI reported.
Confirming the interim order from the Unique Identification Authority of India, Bharti Airtel said it was “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,” Bharti Airtel’s statement said.
Following the suspension, Airtel will not be able to carry out electronic verification by linking mobile numbers to Aadhaar. Users will also not be able to open Airtel Payments Bank accounts using Aadhaar-based e-KYC.
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. Many have got their LPG subsidies in these accounts as well.
The UIDAI had issued a notice to Bharti Airtel in September, but its reply was found unsatisfactory. The interim order said that Airtel made “false statements” to “deceive and mislead” UIDAI, sources told PTI.