HPCL asks Airtel to transfer LPG subsidies to bank accounts

Joanna Estrada
December 20, 2017

Subsidies totalling over Rs190 crore had flown into the "unsolicited" accounts opened by Airtel Payments Bank, even as the accounts got changed for beneficiaries who had multiple bank accounts (See: Airtel to return Rs190 cr gas subsidy in unauthorised accounts).

While Airtel has denied any accusations saying that the Airtel Payment Bank accounts are opened only when the customers specifically give a nod for it, the company is working on the reply, it needs to give to the UIDAI within the stipulated time. Through this, Airtel Payments Bank accounts were being linked to receive LPG subsidy. In a notification signed by UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey, banks have been asked to seek explicit consent of the beneficiaries before changing accounts to which subsidy will be remitted, along with intimating the consumer.

Airtel has deposited an interim penalty of Rs 2.5 crore (25 million) with the Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI after an action against the telecom operator for allegedly opening payments bank accounts of its mobile subscribers without their "informed consent", according to sources.

Taking a lead, Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) wrote to Airtel asking it to revert the subsidy to the customers' earlier bank account or transfer them same to the oil companies. A detailed email sent to Bharti Airtel on the impact of UIDAI's latest move on the SIM verification process (of Airtel), and the alternate mechanism being worked out by the company, went unanswered. This essentially means Airtel would not be able to, in the interim, carry out "electronic-verification" or link mobile SIMs of its customers with their 12-digit biometric national ID Aadhaar though the efficient and paperless eKYC (or electronic Know Your Customer) process of UIDAI.

Banks have also been asked to inform the customer of any change in the bank account. Till this provision is implemented, "NPCI shall disable the override feature" in the Aadhaar-based bank account mapping process, the authority noted.

UIDAI also said that 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 it.

The official asserted that entirely all of the 37.21 lakh payment bank accounts were activated without the explicit or informed consent of the consumers.

"In case he does not want to put his new bank account on the mapper, then the customer should be provided a methodology to reverse this mapping", the UIDAI said. In absence of an SMS or email, the physical signature on the paper consent form will have to taken by the bank prior to sending the request on NPCI mapper.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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