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DBT process to be overhauled after Airtel eKYC suspension: report

Following its order to temporarily suspend the Aadhaar eKYC licence of Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank by the UIDAI, the government is reportedly looking to overhaul its process for linking direct benefit transfers (DBT) to bank accounts and Aadhaar, as per this Economic Times report.

The UIDAI suspended the eKYC licence following the numerous reports from users that Airtel was opening bank accounts without the explicit consent of users using the Aadhaar data when they came to re-verify themselves. Through this, Airtel Payments Bank accounts were being linked to receive LPG subsidy.

Note that the number of deposits four functional payments banks (PB) in stood at Rs 236.45 crore at the end of November and Airtel Payments Bank had the highest number of deposits with Rs 224.03 crore growing 26% from Rs 177.05 crore in August. Reportedly, more than 23 lakh customers have reportedly received about Rs 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, which they did not know had been opened. The UIDAI had launched an investigation on Airtel’s eKYC processes on November 30.

Meanwhile, the Economic Times said that the cabinet secretariat had a meeting with banks last week and directed them to halt the DBT process for the next 10 days till the core banking software was amended. DBT is sent to customers through the Aadhaar Payments Bridge which sends the subsidies automatically to the last account seeded with Aadhaar.

The report added that the changes will curb “the over-enthusiasm by companies to make their own accounts as primary accounts” citing a DBT Mission official. It added that the automatic route will not be possible unless a customer explicitly asks for the subsidy account to be changed. He added the banking lobby , Indian Banks Association (IBA) will be coming out with norms over the next 10 days. IBA has decided to hold a meeting next week with banks on a new form that will list the existing Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of customers, asking them which one is for subsidies.

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