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UIDAI stops eKYC and authentication services, creates problems for fintech companies

mAadhaar app

Jitendra Gupta, founder of Citrus Pay and MD, PayU India, an online payments service, tweeted that KUAs and sub-KUAs were not being allowed validations. Fintech businesses depending on Aadhaar were left scrambling.

KUA stands for e-KYC user agencies – as opposed to AUAs which are authentication user agencies and they refer to the types of authentication access allowed by the UIDAI to Aadhaar data.

When MediaNama spoke with Mr. Gupta, he clarified that he had meant to say AUA. He told us that the authentications had been stopped since yesterday. The UIDAI confirmed it to him without providing an explanation. However, their AUA partner for authentications was informed that the service would remain suspended till the conclusion of the case in the Supreme Court. They work with Khosla labs through Signzy. (MediaNama: It is likely that he meant KUA, as mentioned in his original tweet – Signzy offers KYC services)

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This is causing disruption in the onboarding processes of various businesses and fintech services that relied on the Aadhaar to verify customers. This would mean that businesses depending on Aadhaar for authentication or e-KYC will see an increase in operational costs for an indefinite period.

A look at the Aadhaar dashboard does validate his claim of unavailability –  for both eKYC as well as authentications with the transaction graphs for both not showing any data for the last two days.

In addition to this, the services seemed to be experiencing some unreliability in the past fortnight before they were stopped altogether yesterday.

Aadhaar e-KYC dashboard

Aadhaar e-KYC dashboard

In the last 15 days, there seem to be 5 days with low or no eKYC transactions recorded. 24th March, with 515 transactions, 28th March with 2 transactions and 1st April with 3 transactions against a daily average of over 1.2 crore transactions per day, barring Sundays. The last two days have no data against them. Additionally, the date 27th March is missing from the graph altogether. The significance of this is not known. Nor is it known whether transactions happened on this day and how many.

A similar situation seems to be seen on the graph for AUA (authentication) transactions, with next to no transactions being done on the 30th. The day 1st April is missing from this graph as well and the last two days have no data here too.

In both charts, there are some days with notably less than average transactions as well that can’t be attributed to weekends or public holidays.

There has been no official announcement of service downtime for KUAs and sub-KUAs or AUAs, nor has there been any statement or clarification from UIDAI regarding the days with almost no transactions in comparison with normal days, which indeed highlights the question raised by Jitendra Gupta’s tweet – how can businesses rely on such a service?

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MediaNama’s take

This could be related to the rollout of Limited KYC. However, when a fintech company leader is reduced to tweeting in frustration over the lack of availability of a crucial service to their business that had been heavily promoted for adoption, it is time to accept that there is a problem somewhere – whether due to intentional suspension of services till the court case concludes or technical reasons. A service that depends on the authentication or eKYC from Aadhaar will need up-time to match its operations and the arbitrary actions of the UIDAI appear to be causing problems for those integrating their process with Aadhaar.

General practice with servers and services is to notify users/customers of planned downtime – like for maintenance. Or to acknowledge and provide status updates and explain down times once they are resolved if they were caused by a technical problem or emergency. The UIDAI’s lack of communication does not bode well for it serving as a reliable tool for businesses to integrate into their processes, because it makes businesses vulnerable to inexplicable failures and customer discontentment.

The lack of a public explanation by UIDAI on what clearly appears to be a result of its actions is irresponsible.

Written By

Vidyut is a commentator on socio-political issues with a keen interest in behavioral sciences, digital rights and security and manages to engage her various proficiencies to bring an unusual perspective to issues related with the intersection of tech and people.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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