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Airtel appoints Anubrata Biswas as its new MD & CEO of its payments bank

Airtel has appointed Anubrata Biswas as its new Managing Director and CEO for Airtel Payments Bank.  He will be heading Airtel’s digital banking offerings in his new role.

Prior to Airtel, Biswas was working with ICICI Bank as Joint General Manager and Retail Business Head – South India. He was working with the bank since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has studied at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and Jadavpur University.

Airtel Payments Bank controversies

Biswas fills the position 5 months after Shashi Arora quit the company in December after year and a half of joining. Arora’s exit had come amidst a controversy as UIDAI had suspended Airtel and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar-based verification of customers. This was due to complaints that the telecom company had used the Aadhaar-eKYC based SIM verification process to open payments bank accounts of its subscribers without taking their ‘informed consent’. Such accounts were also linked to get subsidies from the government. UIDAI, while suspending the e-KYC licence, had imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 crore on the payments bank. e-KYC was then restored in April recently.

Besides this in March, The Reserve Bank of India fined Airtel Payments Bank Rs 5 crore for violating Know Your Customers (KYC) norms: a “deficiency in regulatory compliance”. Just to put the penalty in context, between June and October last year Rs 47 crore worth of LPG subsidies were deposited into 23 lakh Airtel Payments Banks accounts after the company had signed up customers without their informed consent. Consumers who are dependent on LPG subsidies may not have the wherewithal to afford LPG cylinders without the subsidy. Considering that Airtel Payments Bank did not issue debit cards and charged customers for cash withdrawals, people were probably left with limited or no access to an essential household commodity.

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