Airtel Promises To Return Rs 190 Cr LPG Subsidy To Original Bank Accounts!

There was a major flaw in the Direct Benefit Transfer Protocol in Aadhaar-enabled payment process, and Airtel took advantage of that.


Airtel Promises To Return LPG Subsidy

Airtel thought that they are being smart here; but in the end, after pressure arising from Govt., general public and oil companies, Airtel has to bite the bullet.

In a statement issued yesterday, Airtel has said that they will return the LPG subsidy amounting to Rs 190 crore to the original bank accounts.

Besides, the direct benefit transfers or DBT process under the Aadhaar regime will be reviewed and changed, as per latest reports. This has been done after Airtel was found to be exploiting a major flaw in the system, which resulted in massive deposits being made in their Payments Bank vault, without consent of the users.

Will it help?

Airtel Will Return The LPG Subsidy!

Yesterday, UIDAI suspended Airtel’s license key to enable Aadhaar based eKYC for their mobile SIMs and Payments Bank. This was a huge embarrassment for India’s largest telecom operator, as the UIDAI found that they had been discreetly creating Airtel Payments Bank accounts, and then enabling LPG subsidy transfer into their own bank accounts, unknown to the customers.

Around 31 lakh users’ LPG subsidy of Rs 190 crore was diverted to Airtel’s Payments Bank, and the users were not even aware.

Now, Airtel has said that they will return the money to the original bank accounts of the users. This will happen via money transfer from Airtel Payments Bank to the original bank accounts of the users.

In a statement, Airtel said,

“As per government rules, DBT subsidy goes to latest Aadhaar linked bank account. Customers can withdraw this at any of our designated outlets. No charges for such withdrawals are levied. Having said that, given that some customers have experienced inconvenience of not being aware of which Bank account the DBT has gone to, we are fully committed to resolving this immediately. We are in the process of taking appropriate steps in respect of the same,”

Interestingly, Airtel was not found to be apologizing for the goof-up anywhere.

The issue came into light after several LPG subsidy holders reported that their money is not being received.

How did this happen?

Govt. Will Alter Direct Benefit Transfer Protocol

UIDAI and NPCL have collaborated to enable direct transfer of welfare schemes, subsidies to the users’ bank account, with a condition: The money will be transferred to last Aadhaar linked bank account.

Now, as we had reported earlier, when any Airtel customer used to go to the store outlet for Aadhaar verification, their Airtel Payments bank account was also opened by default, and linked with Aadhaar.

This made their Airtel Payments Bank account as the last Aadhaar verified bank account, and the transfers used to automatically routed over there.

Now, this whole process of DBT has been suspended, and a new process would be created.

A senior official from the DBT Mission said,

“We believe that it will stem some of the over-enthusiasm by companies to make their own accounts as primary accounts for receiving government subsidy without the explicit consent of the customer. Now this automatic route will not be possible unless the customer explicitly asks for the subsidy account to be changed.”

In short, we can safely say that this was a major flaw in the Aadhaar-enabled payment process, and Airtel took advantage of that. Hopefully, things will improve from here.

We will keep you updated as receive more inputs.

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