Re-Verification of Old Subscribers Will Cost Rs. 2,500 Crores, Says COAI

Re-verification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar-based eKYC will cost an estimated Rs. 2,500 crores, mobile operators’ body COAI said today, seeking certain exemptions in the process.

“The re-verification activity entails a huge cost which is borne by the telecom service providers. In this case, the activity needs to be carried out for about 1,000 million subscribers which is a huge number and involves a humongous resources and efforts,” said Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India.

In a letter to the Telecom Department, COAI has estimated the cost of carrying out this activity at about Rs. 2,500 crores.

The letter came in response to a meeting by the Telecom Department on the issue of re-verification of existing subscribers through Aadhaar-based eKYC.

Last month, telecom regulator TRAI had suggested verification of existing mobile subscribers through Aadhaar based eKYC.

The Supreme Court too has asked the Centre to apprise it about the steps which can be taken to scrutinise the existing and future mobile users in the country.

In its letter, COAI has suggested that once the eKYC based activation facility reaches an acceptable levels, new customer activation should only be allowed through eKYC except in case of foreign nationals and company-owned connections.

This, said COAI, would have to be mandatory precursor, as otherwise new non-eKYC subscribers would continue to be added into the system.

COAI believes that Aadhaar-based eKYC re-verification exercise will be “robust”, as the verification of demographic details would happen through the government database.

The association has suggested a series of measures to carry out the exercise in a “more effective manner”.

These include allowing telecom operators “adequate time” for expanding coverage of eKYC facility pan-India on a shared basis. COAI has suggested that corporate bulk connections, post-paid accounts, as well as SIMs used for non-voice devices like iPads, POS machines, and data cards, be exempt from the Aadhaar-based re-verification.

COAI has also said eKYC should not be mandated for States such as J&K and Assam which have low penetration of Aadhaar.

It has urged that no penalty should be imposed in case of mismatch between subscriber information stored with the telecom operator and data stored in UIDAI server.

“During the re-verification exercise, subscriber inconvenience should be avoided. It is, therefore, submitted that re-verification through Aadhaar-based eKYC should not be mandated at the time of recharge,” COAI added.