Telecom operator Vodafone has launched a pilot mobile subscriber verification project in Hyderabad, through which it will be using the Aadhar letter for both validating and activating new prepaid and postpaid connections in the region.

Vodafone also stated that it has now been appointed as the official authentication service agency (ASA) and authentication user agency (AUA) of UIDAI and claims to be the first telecom operator to formally launch a Proof Of Concept for UIDAI.

During his talk at the #NAMA Conference yesterday, Nandan Nilekani had briefly mentioned a pilot project with Vodafone for the UIDAI project, however he hadn’t shared any specific details on the project.

As per the project, Vodafone will start using the Aadhaar letter as the proof of Identity (PoI) and Proof of Address (PoA) for issuing new Vodafone prepaid and postpaid connections in Andhra Pradesh, as per Department of Telecom (DoT)’s directive. The company claimed that this project will make the process of activating connections easier and reduce the time involved in activating the phone numbers.

Registration & Availability: According to the company statement, the service will be available in two Vodafone Stores – One in Hyderabad (SP Road) and another in Vijaywada (Bandar Road). The company said that users can simply walk into these stores with their Aadhaar letter to apply and get an active Vodafone connection, following validation and identification.

How Does It Work? The company said that it will initially scan the barcode on the Aadhaar letter for authentication, after which the applicant will have to provide their biometric data for identity authentication. Following this, UIDAI will directly send a message to Vodafone store authenticating the customer, which will be treated as the verification proof. The company claims that the entire process will take only few minutes for the customer.

Aadhar Instant Prepaid Accounts: Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of UIDAI, had yesterday announced the launch of Aadhar E-KYC powered instant prepaid accounts, for which a pilot project will be conducted in Delhi next week. He had also stated that UIDAI has partnered with 20 banks, and has tied-up with the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) and Visa for payments powered by E-KYC  (Electronic- Know Your Customer).

He had informed that around 20 crore people currently an Aadhaar number in the country and the UIDAI intends to enrol an additional 100 crore residents, over the next few years.He had also mentioned that Aadhar authentication API will be available for free until 2013, following which it will carry a public good pricing.

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 Vodafone should solely trust on the data provided by UIDAI for verification and activation, instead of using its own subscriber verification methods.

Related:

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– Aadhaar & The Developer Ecosystem: Free API Calls Initially; Transliteration
– Aadhaar: Enrollment, Authentication & Beyond
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