Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How Aadhaar card has made your life easier



How Aadhaar card can make your life easier


Supreme Court allows more instruments to use the biometric card.

Image: Many transactions in the financial sector are finally getting linked to the biometric card. Photograph: Reuters
Soon, linking the employee provident fund account with the Aadhaar card can make life much easier for employees.

K K Jalan, central provident fund commissioner, Employee Provident Fund Organisation, explains: "With the Supreme Court (SC) deciding to allow linking of PF with Aadhaar, it will help us go totally online. We wanted to use Aadhaar to give unique benefits to subscribers, like settlement of accounts through the online method. This can only be done if the account is linked with the biometric card. At present, for claims settlement, we are totally offline."

With the SC adding four more schemes (Jan-Dhan Yojana, Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee, EPF and pensions) where Aadhaar may be used, many transactions in the financial sector are finally getting linked to the biometric card.

Earlier, the use was limited to getting foodgrain and kerosene under the Public Distribution System and for cooking gas.

Image: Aadhaar has been allowed for pension schemes. Photograph: Reuters
Benefit
Says Guru Malladi, partner & leader, advisory services (government & public sector), EY: "For multi-channel service providers this is a welcome step. While there can be no denial of service if one does not have the card, it will help make things simpler for ones who decide to share their Aadhaar details."
For example, as Aadhaar has been allowed for pension schemes, the money can be deposited directly to a pensioner's account.
Even if the pensioner dies, things can move rapidly if his/her nominee's card details are with the department.

At present, it takes three to six months for transfer of such details.
Sushila Pai (name changed) lives with her 92-year- old mother in Mumbai's outskirts.

When her brother who'd retired from a state government organisation passed away, the pension amount was supposed to have passed to the nominee, their mother.

However, as the mother was 92 years and could not travel to the bank or even sign, bank officials had to come every month to get her thumbprint on cheques for withdrawal of pension. Frustrated with the process, the family withdraws the pension once in a quarter or six months.

Even the transfer of pension took over six months because bank officials had to come several times to take the thumbprints.

If Pai's mother had an Aadhaar card and had shared the details with the bank as the nominee of her son's pension, the transfer would have been much simpler.

Image: Usage of Aadhaar will soon be extended to other instruments like purchase of mutual funds. Photograph: Reuters
More products?
When Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi requested the SC to add the opening of bank accounts with a unique identification number, the court would not make more modifications.

However, experts hope this usage of Aadhaar will soon be extended to other instruments like purchase of mutual funds (MFs), insurance policies and so on. Chief executives of MFs believe this development will allow them to exponentially extend their reach.

At present, if distributors have client applications from another city, it is a big problem, as the process of physical verification is long.

Many online distribution companies do video conferencing as physical verification.

Image: The issue is about the authenticity and veracity of the database. Photograph: Reuters
Quiet spread
Backed by the Reserve Bank of India's permission to use Aadhaar, many banks have already started using it aggressively.

Some even insist on the card when one applies for a bank account or loans.
Also, the income tax department is making life easier for taxpayers who are willing to link their Aadhaar while filing returns.

Despite filing a return online, taxpayers had to take printouts of the acknowledgement and send it by post to the department. Now, those who have linked the card need not do it.

The problem
The apex court has not allowed mandatory use of Aadhaar. Without this, most financial institutions will be wary.

However, experts also believe such a development would be premature, for many reasons. At present, the Unique Identification Number covers only 900 million accounts, roughly 75 per cent of the population.

"Once we have reached 90 per cent or more, the courts will look at the government's plea to make it mandatory more favourably," says a tax expert.

 However, it is not only about coverage. Take the case of Anwar Sheikh, an assistant with a law firm, as an example.

He applied for the card, with his family. While the others got their cards in a couple of months, his brother and he did not.

After chasing the department and calling the helpline several times, he was told his documentation had not been received. He reapplied and got his card after a year.

What is more surprising is that when he made contact with the department, he was asked to send the details in a format.

When he did so, there was no response. "How can someone's documentation, eye scan, fingerprints simply disappear from the system? It is what worries me about the idea of a single identity like Aadhaar," says the lawyer.

Image: There is a lot of personal data already floating around. Photograph: Reuters

Voluntary vs mandatory

There is a strong debate on whether it should be made mandatory or not.
Pawan Duggal, cyber security lawyer, feels the government should not do so as of today because Aadhaar is based on biometric information, collected using a computer system. This means it is based on information in electronic form.

It is, therefore, governed by the Information Technology Act, which states that such information needs to have adequate security.

"It's not normal data - it's sensitive personal data. If it's not properly retained and securely maintained, it can be leaked out and the entire identity will be compromised," says Duggal.

Image: It won't be a bad idea to get an Aadhaar card and use it for transactions you are comfortable with. Photograph: Reuters
The bigger problem, as Duggal highlights, is that one doesn't know how the government is complying with the IT Act, as there's no information on data safety procedures adopted. People are clueless on the compliances done under the Act.

Some others feel the privacy issues will be resolved over time. "It is an opportunity for us to review our 70-year-old privacy laws. The security establishment around the card has to be created," adds Malladi.

According to him, there is a lot of personal data already floating around.
For example, with travel to the US and UK, one has to give biometric data even before entering the countries. Many others, like Dubai, seek data for people who are there even in transit. All this data can theoretically be misused.

The issue is about the authenticity and veracity of the database. This is the reason why some financial institutions, like MF companies, are not allowed to accept it as a proof, which can have bigger financial ramifications.

While this debate will be on for some time, or perhaps a very long time, it won't be a bad idea to get an Aadhaar card and use it for transactions you are comfortable with.

What is the Aadhaar case about?
  • After a few government departments made Aadhaar compulsory, several petitions were filed
  • Supreme Court impleads all states and Union Territories in the case
  • The principal opposition to Aadhaar in the SC turns out to be the question of privacy
  • The government's defence: Only basic identity data required
  • SC restrains UIDAI from transferring information to any agency without the written consent of the Aadhaar card holder
  • The attorney-general argues that a Right to Privacy is not guaranteed under the Constitution
  • SC refers the privacy question to a larger constitutional bench
  • A five-judge bench, accordingly, set up to hear the petition
  • Going forward, SC to look at whether there is any Right to Privacy guaranteed under the Constitution

Monday, October 12, 2015

Paytm to launch virtual 16 digit Rupay card




In a bid to increase the currency of its digital money, leading payments and company Paytm is planning to launch a virtual card in partnership with and a bunch of national banks. The virtual card, which will have a 16-digit number, just like a physical debit or credit card, will expand Paytm's reach significantly from 35,000 merchants currently using its to 1.5 million merchants, who accept all kinds of through plastic cards.

Once rolled out, the virtual card is expected to increase the utility of money stored on Paytm digital wallets, since it will make it usable across a much wider network, said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, “We are building this so that our wallet gets ubiquitously accepted across places.”


PIXEL PUMPING
  • Paytm plans to launch a virtual card with RuPay
  • The card which will have a 16-digit number, just like a debit or credit card
  • It is expected to expand Paytm's reach from 35,000 merchants to 1.5 million
  • Paytm has applied for a payment bank licence. is expected to announce successful applicants by August

For instance, Taxi firm uses Paytm, but some of its peers don't. Similarly, leading e-commerce that may be competing with Paytm in the e-commerce space also do not use Paytm. However, after this virtual card is rolled out, consumers can shop from rival e-commerce sites or book a cab from aggregators other than Uber using their Paytm money. The virtual card will also give Paytm a leg up over its competitors which are offering similar services.

Sharma said the company is currently negotiating the commercials with banks and Rupay, and should be able to launch the product in the next three months. When asked why consumers will opt for a virtual pre-paid card when they can just shop using their debit or credit card, Sharma listed a couple of reasons. Using the debit card might put the entire bank account at the risk of cyber crime and very few people in the country have credit cards. There are only 20 million credit card users, compared to 81 million Paytm users, added Sharma. “Also, our goal is to provide online experience to even consumers who do not have a bank account.”


However, the company might face some challenges as Rupay is not currently offered by each and every bank in India and users might find the procedure too complicated. Once rolled out, a Paytm consumer will be able to see the 16-digit number in the application settings. The company is also exploring the option of issuing a physical card, which can be used at offline retail merchants.

Since Paytm has also applied for a Payment Bank license with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), it will be interesting to note how these new payment models pan out for the company. In a recent interview to Business Standard, Sharma had said, “Payment will be our primary play. We came into business to solve the payment issues of this country and I am confident we can solve those by using the mobile platform. RBI is expected to come out with the first list on August 1. If we get a licence, we can offer a bouquet of financial services.”

At present, Paytm has a user base of 80 million and 30 million for its mobile wallet service. The number includes users accessing its services through computers. Sharma expects to see 50 million Paytm app downloads and a wallet user base of 200 million by the end of 2015-16.

The company is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's financial arm Ant Financial. It is set to get close to one million merchants from China on its marketplace and add about 100 million stock-keeping units (SKUs) to its platform by July-August as part of the deal. It will also increase the number of Indian merchants from 40,000 at present to 100,000 by the end of this financial year.