NEW DELHI: Citizens may soon be able to validate the credentials of drivers and domestic helps before hiring them using their Aadhaar numbers.
The government plans to widen the scope of the Aadhaar authentication system – so far restricted to banks and a few government departments – and throw it open to individuals and private companies, while ensuring that privacy concerns are addressed by using a more secure method.
Citizens would be able to use the unique identity number to verify details of others for a small fee. Unlike other identity documents such as voter, ration and PAN cards, the Aadhaar UID number can be checked online in real time. The service can also be used by companies that want to authenticate the records of their consumers and staff.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is looking at appointing third-party agencies that will carry out the authentication on behalf of individuals and companies, according to a government official aware of the development. “Various use-cases can be built using the Aadhaar authentication service, especially by startups who have been requesting for access,” said the official, requesting anonymity. The move comes after a recent diktat by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expand the use of Aadhaar.
To address privacy concerns associated with Aadhaar, the new authentication system will function differently from eKYC norms, which are currently used by government departments and banks. Under eKYC, user agencies enter the Aadhaar number and biometrics of a person and the UIDAI server provides the name, address and other details, which are then stored by the agencies.
In the service to be extended to private companies and citizens, only the bar code on the Aadhaar letter will be scanned and the data it contains will be sent to the Aadhaar database for verification and returned with a yes or no. “This will be most secure way of authentication since there will be no transfer of any citizen data through the UID database,” the official said.
According to UIDAI, there are about 330 authentication user agencies and over 111 crore transactions have been handled since the inception of the service. About 20 companies have signed up for the Aadhaar authentication service, including telecom service providers such as Bharti AirtelBSE 1.92 %, Vodafone and state-owned BSNL, along with financial services firms such as MasterCard and Visa.
“Firms which have a high number of workforce or spend a significant amount in carrying our user verification can benefit greatly from this service,” the official said.
ETreported earlier this year that financial services firm FinoPaytech is in talks with an ecommerce player to use Aadhaar numbers to verify customers in parts of the country where there is a high risk of delivery boys being robbed and rejection of goods ordered online.
In August, the Supreme Court had asked the government to restrict the use of Aadhaar to five to six welfare schemes amid concerns of privacy. The matter has been referred to a Constitutional bench on privacy, which is yet to be formed.