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UIDAI tightens norms for Aadhaar-bank account linking

UIDAI tightens norms for Aadhaar-bank account linking

To avoid a repeat of Bharti Airtel-type fiasco, the Aadhaar-issuing authority UIDAI on Wednesday directed banks to seek an explicit consent of the beneficiary before changing the account to which the government subsidy is being remitted.

According to the latest rules, ‘explicitly informed consent’ from customers has been made compulsory.

Also, the banks have been asked to intimate the beneficiary about the change within 24-hours through SMS and e-mail as well as provide an option to the person to reverse the change, according to a Gazette notification issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will disable the override feature that UIDAI said was being misused by many banks while seeding Aadhaar to accounts without informed consent of residents.

The notification follows complaints of government grants, particularly LPG subsidy, being credited into the last account authenticated using national biometric ID, Aadhaar.

As a result subsidies from the government was being credited to new accounts without their knowledge.

The situation was worse in case of Bharti Airtel, which allegedly opened unsolicited payment bank accounts of its unsuspecting mobile customers who had used Aadhaar to verify their SIMs.

The government has made it mandatory for all bank accounts as well as SIMs to be verified by providing the 12- digit biometric identification number Aadhaar.

While subsidies totaling over Rs 190 crore had flown into the ‘unsolicited’ accounts opened by Airtel Payments Bank, the accounts had also got changed for beneficiaries who had multiple bank accounts as the last account authenticated became the one meant for subsidy receiving.

The UIDAI, in the notification, said the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) shall allow override requests or change of subsidy-receiving account, only if it is accompanied by the name of the beneficiary’s current bank and a confirmation that explicit consent has been obtained for the switchover.

Till this provision is implemented, “NPCI shall disable the override feature” in the Aadhaar-based bank account mapping process, the notification said.

When contacted, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told PTI that “a very secure process has been evolved to put an effective stop to switching of bank accounts without” informing and seeking consent of consumers.

As per the new process, banks will send request for mapping of a new account or overriding an existing bank account to NPCI only after taking explicit and informed consent of their customers, it said.

In case, the consumer does not wish to link the DBT to the new account, the bank will have to provide the user with a method to reverse the mapping.

In absence of an SMS or email (for those consumer who do not have e-mail or mobile connection), the physical signature on the paper consent form will have to taken by the bank prior to sending the request on NPCI mapper.

All these records will have to be retained by the banks for seven years.

“Banks and NPCI shall make available the aforesaid records at the time of the audit as per the provisions of Aadhaar Authentication Regulations 2016,” the notification added.

People, particularly in rural and remote areas, were being put to inconvenience as they were clueless about receipt of subsidy and also unable to withdraw the subsidy amount credited in payment bank accounts as payment banks are not having branches or cash out points in sufficient number in these areas, the UIDAI said.

The UIDAI has notified changes to its rules to avoid further inconvenience to Aadhaar holders and to ensure that the Aadhaar collected for a purpose is not used for any other purpose without informed consent of the Aadhaar holders.

Source: The Hindu

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