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Airtel Allowed Limited Use Of Aadhaar; Gets Away With An ‘Interim Penalty’ Of Rs 2.5 Cr!

After placing a blanket ban on any type of Aadhaar usage, UIDAI has now allowed limited use of Aadhaar for Airtel, with several terms and conditions attached.

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Airtel Allowed Limited Use Of Aadhaar

Airtel, India’s largest telecom provider which had created around 31 lakh Airtel Payments Bank without the users’ consent, and directly transferred Rs 190 crore worth of LPG subsidy of around 50 lakh consumers into Airtel’s own bank without any intimation, has now been allowed to use Aadhaar, albeit in a limited manner.

After this incident, they were banned from using Aadhaar for any purpose, an unprecedented action for any telecom company.

Besides, UIDAI has imposed an ‘interim penalty’ of Rs 2.5 crore, which amounts to mere Rs 8.5 per user.

The question is arises is: Who ultimately benefited here? Airtel or the consumers?

UIDAI To Airtel: Limited Use of Aadhaar Allowed

After placing a blanket ban on any type of Aadhaar usage, UIDAI has now allowed limited use of Aadhaar for Airtel, with several terms and conditions attached.

Besides, this limited use of Aadhaar has been allowed only till January 10th.

The Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI), the central authority on Aadhaar will consult with RBI and Telecom Ministry to devise ways to audit Airtel’s financial records to ascertain whether they can be allowed to use Aadhaar in future or not; and “to ensure that the company is in compliance with their license conditions”.

Till January 10th, Airtel has only been allowed to use Aadhaar for re-verification and issuing new SIM cards. All usage of Aadhaar for opening new Airtel Payments Bank, wallet, DTH or any other purpose still holds suspended.

Sources said,

“UIDAI has not allowed Airtel Payment Bank Limited to use eKYC [electronic Know-Your-Customer] license key and it shall remain deactivated until further notice,”

Rs 2.5 Cr Penalty For Airtel

Meanwhile, after Airtel promised to transfer Rs 190 crore to around 55 lakh consumers, which was dubiously transferred to their own payments bank, UIDAI has imposed a penalty of Rs 2.5 crore, which has been paid by them.

Besides, Airtel has been asked send a SMS to all LPG subsidy holders within 24 hours, and inform them that their respective subsidies would be transferred to their original bank account.

Now, Rs 2.5 crore fine for creating more than 30 lakh Airtel Payments Bank account without their consent amounts to mere Rs 8.5 per user.

This is even less than what new startups pay for acquiring new customers, or for downloading a new app. Rs 100 is generally perceived as a reasonable amount to acquire new users of a app, wallet or payments bank.

It seems that the penalty was just a slap in the wrist, and it was Airtel which emerged as the winner here.

We will keep you updated.

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