The Aadhaar card is a government-issued unique identity card that contains the individual’s biometric and personal information. While it is not mandatory to apply for the Aadhaar, reports show almost 35% of the Indian population have applied for one.
The Aadhaar has been linked to various government services such as the LPG subsidy scheme and a number of government welfare schemes.
Besides acting as a means to avail government issued subsidies and schemes, the UIDAI, which issues the Aadhaar cards on behalf of the government, is also looking at extending the scope of use of the card.
Since the Aadhaar stores demographic information such as the holder’s name, address and age, the Aadhaar can be used as a form of identity proof for a host of services such as applying for a bank account, buying a SIM card as well as registering for various services, both private and public.
Aadhaar and e-KYC
As the proof of identity and proof of address information already exist on the Aadhaar database, the UIDAI is attempting to provide this information for the purpose of authentication when holders apply for any service that requires such authentication.
Since the Aadhaar platform is digital, they have designed a digital platform known as an ‘e-KYC’ or electronic Know Your Customer service.
This service will allow Aadhaar holders to authorise the UIDAI to release their demographic information (such as their identity and address information) to service providers. The authorisation is done through a One Time Password (OTP) or through biometrics.
How This Works
Once the Aadhaar holder has given his/her approval to the UIDAI to release the information through biometrics/OTP, the UIDAI will release a digital version of the information to the service provider in question.
As this information is purely digital, the need for physical copies of address and identity proof is done away with, paving the way for a completely paperless process.
As the information is being released by the UIDAI, the service provider is assured of the authenticity of the documentation as it has been subject to verification previously.
Benefits of e-KYC
The e-KYC service has a number of benefits, as mentioned below:
- Paperless- the e-KYC process is completely paperless, thus the service provider does not have to make arrangement for document management as in the case of physical copies which have to be stored.
- Instant- As soon as the holder intimates the UIDAI that the information is to be shared with a certain service provider and he/she authenticates the transaction, the information is sent through secure channels to the service provider. This eliminates the wait period that providing physical documents generally requires.
- Eliminates forgery- the possibility of submitting forged documents is eliminated as the UIDAI sends across only a tamper-proof digital copy. Thus the holder’s information is secure and cannot be forged or used without consent in any transactions by the service provider.
- Based on consent- the information will be shared with the service provider only after UIDAI receives explicit consent from the Aadhaar holder in the form of a biometric or OTP acknowledgement.
- Non-repudiable- the information sent by the UIDAI contains the holder’s digital signature as well as the UIDAI’s authentication and unique signature, thus making it impossible to revoke or recant by the parties involved in the transaction.
- Cuts cost- as the system is paperless, the need for expensive storage and protection of documentation is eliminated, making this a cost effective process.
The e-KYC process was initiated in the month of May 2013, with a number of organisations and entities adopting it for their business needs, making for a seamless and secure service delivery process that benefits the end user as well as the Aadhaar holder.