Jio , Airtel & Vodafone Idea Limited To Rollout New Digital KYC Method By 20th November.Mobile phone companies have requested the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to give them 15 more days till November 20 to implement the alternate digital process for verifying new subscribers, during which time they should be allowed to also run the Aadhaar-based authentication process.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), representing all private operators, in a letter dated October 31 said that while the service providers will submit their proof of concept of the new digital process by earlier deadline of November 5, it was not feasible to stop Aadhaar-based electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC) by that date. This was because telcos had to reach out to millions of retail stores, with many in far flung areas, and therefore needed more time for it.
The alternate digital process envisages a customer acquisition form (CAF) be embedded with live photographs of subscribers and scanned images of a proof of address and identify, which will make the entire process paperless. COAI though confirmed that telcos had “completely stopped” Aadhaar-based re-verification of older subscribers, as per the DoT’s directives a week back, issued following the Supreme Court order of September 26, barring private entities from using the 12-digit unique ID for digital authentication.
It also said that it understands that the DoT will issue guidelines for subscriber verification under the new digital process once its implemented and the final approval given. “We request that during the interim period, the TERM Cell should not impose any penalty for information or process gaps that may arise".
Telcos said that although operators have started working on alternate digital methods, “implementation of the digital process including stabilisation of the same is likely to take some more time considering the process needs to be implemented across millions of retailer points and company stores across the country, including far flung and remote areas”.
They added that as with any new process, telcos are bound to face challenges and time will be needed to fix them.
The extended time will help them properly implement the new process better without “inconvenience” to the customers, wrote the industry lobby body.
The apex court’s order had dealt a huge setback to the likes of Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea who are having to revert to the more time-taking and costlier means of physically verifying subscriber details, till the alternate method is implemented.
Until the apex court struck down the use of Aadhaar biometric data by private entities, telcos had onboarded more than 90% of new subscribers using the unique ID due to factors led by convenience, although some people avoided furnishing the biometric ID owing to fears of data leakage.
More than 500 million people, or about half of India’s mobile phone users, have linked their Aadhaar to their phone number.