Ultimately, Airtel had to pay the fine. The telecom giant had to deposit the penalty of ₹2.5 crore with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for violating the rules of using Aadhaar for its electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC) verification.
As per sources, the company is known to have given the assurance that it would refund ₹190 crore that had flown into the ‘unsolicited’ payments bank accounts of 31 lakh mobile subscribers over the next 24 hours and would also inform the customers that their subsidy-linked account is being switched back to the originally-chosen account.
Also, a source close to this irregularity added that “They (Airtel) have also stated that all 31 lakh customers will be intimated by Airtel that their subsidy money is being transferred to the originally-chosen accounts and that henceforth such money will flow into those designated accounts”.
However, no nod of approval or confirmation has been yet received from the end of Bharti Airtel.
As per UIDAI, it had temporarily suspended the telecom operator as well as its payments bank from conducting any Aadhaar-based verification of its mobile customers as well those of the bank, using the e-KYC process.
Further, the authority had also sent a notice to the company in September after receiving complaints from citizens that it had been opening payments bank accounts without the explicit consent of users. Also, it was also alleged that government subsidies like the aadhaar help spot were being credited in these accounts without the prior knowledge of the users.
So, when the customers went to Airtel’s mobile app for verification, a box popped up with the statement “Upgrade or create my Airtel Payment Bank wallet using existing Airtel mobile KYC”, as per the reports by UIDAI. The authority has also roped in PwC for an audit in this issue.