Monday, 26 February 2018

Linking Aadhaar to various services, a tough task



      The Government of India has made it mandatory to link Aadhaar No. (Unique Idetication Number with gender, photograph, date of birth, address and biometric marks) to PAN (Permanent Account Number which is mandatory for financial transactions beyond prescribed limits and for filing income tax returns), income tax returns, bank accounts, insurance, mobiles, etc. by March 31, 2018.

During my endeavour to comply with the government order, I discovered that different organisations have introduced different procedures, some quite simple and some very complicated, for verification and linkage.

The easiest is to link Aadhaar to bank accounts (if one is using the net banking facility) and mutual funds. The net-banking site of each bank has a very simple procedure for linkage.

The linking of Aadhaar to mutual fund accounts has been made simpler by CAMS and Kary, the two companies that together manage all the mutual fund accounts. Each one requires only PAN, date of birth and Aadhaar number. The process takes about 2-3 minutes only. Once Aadhaar number is verified, all your mutual fund accounts managed by the company is linked to Aadhaar.

The most frustrating has been my experience to link Aadhaar to a Demat account. After crossing several stages on the website of the company, I was directed to get a very lengthy OTP (one-time password), sent on the mobile, photographed by the web camera of the laptop. The company advised that I can do so by placing the mobile on which the lengthy OTP was displayed before the web camera or I can write down the length OTP on a piece of paper which can be placed before the web camera to be photographed. Despite several attempts, photograph of OTP was not acceptable to the company. Each time I failed to get the photograph acceptable, I had to go through all the stages afresh.  Surprisingly, the photographs of the all the OTPs saved in the ‘Camera Roll’ folder are quite clear.

The linking of Aadhaar to mobile number was neither easy nor very difficult. The website of the service provider gave a phone number which could be dialled only from the mobile. After a few oral instructions on the mobile, I was asked to enter the OTP sent on the same mobile. After a few attempts, I succeeded in going back to the message, note down the OTP, resume the call which had been kept on hold and enter the OTP. The last message was that the verification would take 26 hours.

Fortunately, I do not have any insurance or EPF account. Aadhaar is already linked to PAN and income tax return filing site.

 I am sure many people would be facing similar problems. I do not know how those who are using conventional mobile phones (not the smart ones) will be able to link Aadhaar to mobile number in the absence of facility to go back-and-forth, from oral instructions to message sent about OTP and back.

In this high-tech age, it should be possible to simplify the procedure. The government can provide ‘single window’ for linking Aadhaar to all the accounts, viz, mobile, mutual funds, demat accounts, insurance, etc. The government can collect requisite details and inform the companies/organisations the Aadhaar Nos.

Under the present system, one can expect last minute rush to get Aadhar linkage process completed.  It is quite possible that large number of people will miss the dead line.

The purpose of linking Aadhaar to mobiles, bank accounts, etc. is to protect the customers from frauds and mischiefs. That being so, I am surprised that so far there is no order to link Aadhaar to landlines and Public Provident Fund.  

If protection from fraud is the objective, there is every justification for linking Aadhaar  not only landlines, PPF, real estates registered without Aadhaar number and to several other items. Maybe, the government will require that in due course. Therefore, it is all the more necessary to have a simplified procedure.



Devendra Narain
February 26, 2018

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