UIDAI, India’s Aadhaar issuing authority, has suspended Aadhaar eKYC license of Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank following reports of Aadhaar misuse. The suspension comes after allegations of Aadhaar misuse by Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank Ltd., with customers complaining that Airtel had opened Airtel Payments Bank accounts of customers without their informed consent.

Airtel, Airtel Payments Bank eKYC license suspended

Over the past few weeks, many customers were complaining that Airtel has opened Airtel Payments Bank accounts of its customers without their consent. This was apparently happening when Airtel was undertaking Aadhaar re-verification of its customers. The issue came to spotlight when Airtel customers received LPG gas subsidy in their Airtel Payments Bank accounts.

Following complaints, customer reports and investigations, Airtel was reportedly found in violation of UIDAI’s guidelines. Passing an interim order, UIDAI “suspended e-KYC licence key of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd with immediate effect,”, according to media reports. As a result, both Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank Ltd will not be able to undertake Aadhaar eKYC, but alternate verification methods can still be used.

Confirming the eKYC license suspension, an Airtel spokesperson said,

“We can confirm that we have received interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e-KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel payment banks onboarding of customers. We are 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.”

Should Airtel customers worry?

Opening payments bank accounts of its customers without their informed consent has landed Airtel in trouble. Accordingly, after complaints, UIDAI had issued the first notice to the telco on September 18th, but Airtel’s response was not found to be satisfactory. Further, UIDAI issued the second notice on November 24, but Airtel was reportedly found violating UIDAI’s eKYC rules even then.

The interim order from UIDAI has listed some of the complaints from the customers and also mentioned that Airtel and Airtel Payment Bank Ltd. had made “false statements” to “deceive and mislead” UIDAI. The