Aadhaar Has Been Made Compulsory For All Mobile Users; Telcos Will Spend Rs 1000 Cr To Re-Verify Every User Using Aadhaar

As per estimates, telecom players will collectively shell out Rs 1000 crore for this massive exercise, whose last date is February 6th, 2018. If you are a mobile user, and if you don’t have an Aadhaar card, then after February 6th, 2018, you won’t be able to use your mobile.

A few days back, when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Aadhaar would be the only card required in India, he was certainly no kidding.

As per the notification, all telecom players will need to inform their users about this new rule via electronic/print media, and sending regular SMSes. An SMS has to be sent prior to verification via Aadhaar, to establish that the user is physically using the SIM card. A verification code will be shared in this SMS, which will form the base of Aadhaar based e-KYC.

The notification said, “Only after this activity (verification SMS) the licensee shall proceed for the e-KYC process. The licensee shall then seek confirmation from the subscriber about the re-verification of his/her mobile number after 24 hours through SMS,”

Aadhaar has been now made compulsory for getting a new mobile connection, and all telecom operators need to be re-verify their existing users using Aadhaar based e-KYC within a year.

Actually, Supreme Court, which had earlier stated that Aadhaar is not mandatory for availing Govt. subsidies, had passed an order as on February 6th, 2017 making Aadhaar a mandatory e-KYC for all telecom users. In relation to this order, Department of Telecommunication has recently passed a notification, which mandates all telecom operators to a) Re-verify their existing users using Aadhaar e-KYC b) Issue new mobile connection only after establishing Aadhaar based e-KYC.

Telecom Operators To Spend Rs 1000 Crore For This Exercise?

Interestingly, Jio would be least affected by this new diktat, as almost 100% of their 100 million customers have already verified themselves using Aadhaar based e-KYC, simply because that was the only option to get a new SIM card.

An SMS has to be sent prior to verification via Aadhaar, to establish that the user is physically using the SIM card. A verification code will be shared in this SMS, which will form the base of Aadhaar based e-KYC.

As per leading telecom analysts, telecom operators will need to shell out Rs 1000 crore for completing Aadhaar based re-verification process, starting from scratch.

In relation to this order, Department of Telecommunication has recently passed a notification, which mandates all telecom operators to a) Re-verify their existing users using Aadhaar e-KYC b) Issue new mobile connection only after establishing Aadhaar based e-KYC.

In case their existing users don’t complete this re-verification, then their connection has to be terminated, and this would mean further loss.

Spending on TV/print and digital advertisements to create awareness about this new rule, telcos will need to purchase lakhs of bio-metric devices for completing the e-KYC process, maybe visit remote villages for the same.

Maybe Mukesh Ambani had that vision that Aadhaar would be the only verification protocol in the future, and he played the gamble well.

Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said, “It is indeed a big challenge for the industry as this will entail capital expenditure,”, adding, “It could cost at least Rs 1,000 crore in training people, getting recognition devices and setting up processes,”

For other telecom operators, it is certainly a steep road ahead now.

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