If you don’t have an Aadhaar card number, you’ll probably have to get one soon, since the government is making this mandatory across a range of services, and it looks like getting a mobile connection is next on the list. Last Friday, Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued an order asking telecom operators to start the process of re-verifying their subscribers with Aadhaar-based eKYC.
DoT’s order reads, “All licensees shall re-verify all existing mobile subscribers (prepaid and postpaid) through Aadhaar-based e-KYC process.” For telecom providers, the DoT is giving a one year time period to carry out this eKYC process; the order puts the final date at February 6, 2018. The DoT directive comes after the Supreme Court issued an order with this respect in February this year.
So what is Aadhaar-based eKYC and what does it require? For starters, the Aadhaar card becomes mandatory if you to hold onto your old mobile number or even get a new one. Aadhaar eKYC is a paperless form of Know Your Customer (KYC); the KYC guidelines ensure that the service provider, and this is not just restricted to mobile service providers, but includes banks, etc, need to have details of their customers like address, age, full name, etc.
With Aadhaar-based KYC identity, address and other details are verified via the Aadhaar authentication online. A user will have to give his Aadhaar number, do the biometric verification, and the KYC is done.
So how will you know when to get eKYC done with your mobile operator? No need to rush just yet, but this will come soon. Customers will start receiving SMS alerts, or see television and print ads from their telecom provider regarding the same as DoT has directed them to do the same.
Cellular operators’ association of India (COAI) had said that its members, which includes the majority of telecom providers in the country, will meet later this week to discuss the process. However COAI has pointed out the entire exercise will cost Rs 1,000 crore for infrastructure and training, which will have to be borne by the operators.
“The issue of fake subscribers will go away. We will try our best to cover the entire base within the stipulated time frame of one year but in case we cannot, we may ask DoT for an extension,” COAI Director General Rajan Mathews said in a statement to PTI.
Will one eKYC be good enough to get another connection with the same operator? No, if you go by the DoT notification. According to a PTI report, “For issuing additional mobile connections to re-verified subscriber, the operator would have to follow a separate eKYC process.” So if you have a Vodafone or Airtel connection, and you get it re-verified, getting a second number will require another eKYC, which is tedious.
However, if you are converting prepaid to postpaid or vice versa, then you won’t be requiring another eKYC.
One of the reasons for Aadhaar-based eKYC is that it will help deal with the issue of fake mobile subscribers in the country. But the catch is that it also means that anyone who doesn’t have an Aadhaar card won’t be able to continue with the mobile connection, which sounds extreme. India has over 1 billion plus mobile connections, and this Aadhaar eKYC will impact every single user.