Reliance Communications will be using Aadhaar’s online authentication process to activate new connections. The company claims to have tested this solution in a non company owned multi brand small retail outlet and claims to be the first telco in the country to offer Aadhar authentication in both company owned and non company owned multi brand small retail outlet. However its worth noting that Vodafone had launched a pilot program offering Aadhaar based verification back in October 2012.
RCOM said that it is currently awaiting Department of Telecom (DoT) guidelines for acquisition through Aadhaar. One can just walk into any retailer in the country with their Aadhaar card to get a mobile connection. The customer’s Aadhaar profile details along with the biometric authentication details will be shared by the retailer with UIDAI server for real time authentication. Once authenticated, the customer details can be fetched online from UIDAI server following which their mobile connection will immediately activated by RCOM. Note that this method of authentication will be available at both company owned and non company owned multi brand small retail outlet. The company claims that about 90% of the new SIM cards sold every month come from non company owned multi brand small retail outlets.
Prior to this, users had to submit a photocopy of customers KYC documents and photo to purchase a SIM card. Retailers then had to submit the documents to the company and the SIM would get activated after the company verified the documents. Aadhaar authentication makes the entire process swift and paperless.
Our readers might remember that speaking at the #NAMA conference, Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of UIDAI, had announced the launch of Aadhar E-KYC powered instant prepaid accounts, for which a pilot project was conducted in New Delhi. He had also stated that UIDAI had partnered with 20 banks, and had tied-up with the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) and Visa for payments powered by Aadhaar enabled E-KYC (Electronic- Know Your Customer). The Aadhaar powered E-KYC (Electronic- Know Your Customer), utilizes the E-KYC APIs, to allow citizens to avail different services without carrying any physical identification proof. To conduct an E-KYC check, an E-KYC request, along with Aadhaar number and authentication is sent as an input and the name, address, date of birth, gender, and photograph, is received by the agency. (Full video here)
Fake Accounts? While we believe that Aadhaar has the potential to be the single unique identity system for Indian citizens in the future, we think that the project hasn’t reach that stage yet, since we have seen several instances of fake Aadhaar numbers being generated till now. Nilekani had admitted that like every complex deployment, even Aadhaar had faced initial teething problems.
This makes us wonder if telcos should solely trust on the data provided by UIDAI for verification and activation, instead of using its own subscriber verification methods.