Showing posts with label Aadhar Card. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aadhar Card. Show all posts

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Issue of RuPay cards jumps post-demonetisation


Banks in the country have issued nearly 60 per cent more RuPay cards for Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY) account-holders in the two months following demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes on November 8 than they had issued a year prior to that.
Banks had added around 2.83 crore new RuPay cards from November 25, 2015, to November 9, 2016. Compared to this, in just two months following demonetisation, nearly 1.56 crore RuPay cards were issued.
The number of RuPay cards increased to 19.43 crore by November 9, 2016 from 16.6 crore as on November 25, 2015.
Of the 26.68 crore PMJDY account-holders, nearly 21 crore (78.71 per cent) had RuPay cards by January 11.
RuPay card is an initiative by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to allow all Indian banks and financial institutions to participate in electronic payments.
Aadhaar seeding
In spite of the Prime Minister’s endorsement of JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile) vision on several forums, the seeding of Aadhaar numbers with PMJDY accounts remained at 42 per cent of the total PMJDY accounts in November 2015. Of the 19.34 crore accounts, only around 8.19 crore were seeded with Aadhaar numbers as on November 25 2015.
The Prime Minister had stated that the JAM vision would serve as the bedrock of many initiatives to come.
Aadhaar seeding with bank accounts crossed the 50 per cent mark only in August 2016.
In the one year to November 2016, banks seeded 5.49 crore more accounts with Aadhaar numbers.
Of the 25.51 crore PMJDY accounts, around 13.68 crore were seeded with Aadhaar by November 9, 2016. During the post-demonetisation period between November 9, 2016, and January 11, 2017, banks seeded 1.67 crore more accounts with Aadhaar numbers.
Of the 26.68 crore PMJDY account-holders, nearly 15.36 crore (57.58 per cent) were seeded with Aadhaar numbers by January 11.

Centre pushes for fingerprint money transactions through Aadhaar Pay



Keen to push digital payments among the poor and illiterate in rural areas of the country, the government is pushing to popularise Aadhaar Pay which ensures financial transactions by just using fingerprint.



Aadhaar Pay, which is merchant version of the already in use Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AEPS), will become an alternative for all online and card transactions which require password and PIN.



The app facilitates merchants to take cashless payments from a customer who is only required to give his Aadhaar number, name of the bank (from where the money is to be deducted) and finger print for authentication. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO AB Pandey said Aadhaar Pay works on any android-based phone, even a low cost one, with an attached finger biometric device.



"This ensures digital transactions which are cardless, PINless... There is no need of smartphone for the customers," he added. In order to popularise the use of Aadhaar Pay among merchants, the government has asked banks to enrol 30-40 merchants per branch so that they are able to take cashless payments from customers.



At present five banks — Andhra Bank, IDFC Bank, IndusInd Bank, State Bank of India and Syndicate Bank — have gone live over Aadhaar Pay and several banks are in the process of launching pilots on the app.



A senior official said the plan is to identify Aadhaar Pay transactions separately and to incentivise merchants for long-term sustainability and scalability of the system. As it needs a biometric device costing about Rs 2,000, the government is also working on an incentive model so that cost of the device is amortised over time and the merchants are encouraged to use it.

Rejecting security concerns over AEPS, the UIDAI CEO said transactions using Aadhaar Pay are much more secure than any other digital mode of transaction, both in terms of technology and process. Besides the merchant using the app being enrolled in the bank and the customer's bank account linked to Aadhaar, he said the biometric data get encrypted leaving little scope for any misuse. 

"Fingerprints can't be copied as it get encrypted. Even if any merchant or customer tries to misuse the fingerprints, he will be caught immediately as the location of merchants using the app is known to the bank," he explained.



The AEPS platform, launched in December 2012, enabled people to carry out banking transactions over hand-held devices (micro ATM) using the Aadhaar number and fingerprints. The Andhra Pradesh government has launched cashless payments at most of the fair price shops (FPS) and Gujarat, in partnership with CSC e-governance, has launched cashless payments using AEPS platform at over 3,000 fair price shops.

Monday, November 9, 2015

RuPay forces MasterCard to call for fair competition


Facing stiff competition from India's own payment gateway RuPay, MasterCard has called for a level-playing field to stay put in the Indian market.

"It is great that the government is opening up the market. But the market should be driven by competition rather than mandate-driven competition," said Ravinder S Aurora, MasterCard group head and senior vice-president.

RuPay, which is run by the National Payments Corporation of India, gained traction in the local market ever since banks started opening accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. 

About 154 million RuPay cards have been issued to new non-frills account holders under the PMJDY programme, to add to the 40 million existing RuPay debit cards with regular bank customers. Ru-Pay, which was conceptualised by the Reserve Bank of India in 2009, has cornered about one-third of the market with a of 580 million. China has a similar indigenous card called the Union Pay of China. 

To thwart competition, Aurora said that MasterCard is focusing on innovation and advanced technology for better security features. Not too long ago, MasterCard and Visa Card were predominant in the Indian market, which is now almost equally shared by RuPay and the two global payment solution providers in terms of number of cards issued. 

Bankers said that issuing RuPay cards is cost-effective for them as the fees associated with it is typically lower than the charges levied by Visa or MasterCard. Aurora said that about 10% of MasterCard's global business comes from India. It had invested $250 million in India last year.

It has tied up with E-lala, the ecommerce portal being promoted by Confederation of All India Traders. 


PM Modi emphasizes on Financial inclusion

PM Modi emphasizes on Financial inclusion

Prime minister Narendra Modi has said real development in the country means bringing positive change into the lives of the common man and eradication of poverty. 

While addressing the Delhi Economics Conclave in New Delhi on the economic and institutional reforms introduced by government, Prime Minister asked economists to deliberate and find 'out-of-the-box' sustainable solutions. 

'Reform to transform' that was the mantra Prime minister Narendra Modi shared at the Delhi economics enclave. 

He stressed on the fact that while talking of reform, it is important ask two critical questions: 

REFORM FOR WHAT? and REFORM FOR WHOM? In answer to the the second question Narendra Modi reiterated his government's motto of Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas. 

The theme of the Conclave this year is 'Realising India's JAM -Jan-Dhan Aadhar Mobile. It seeks to explore ways to improve the subsidy procedures. The PM has given an all-new meaning to JAM saying it stands for JUST ACHIEVE MAXIMUM. 

While speaking on the reforms, PM said that 19 crore people have been connected with the banking system under the Jan Dhan Yojana in just a few months. 

26000 crore rupees has been deposited in these accounts and the Rupay Card facility is now being used by 36 percent of the population. 

Under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna, 60 lakh people have been issued loans worth Rs 38000 crores. 

1.25 lakh bank branches have also been given the target of issuing loans to at least have one dalit and one woman to achieve true financial inclusion. Around 12 crore people are benefiting from these programs. 

The PM said that the economy of the country is strong and taking it to greater heights is not a short-term task but a long term objective. 

Highlighting the achievements of his Government, he said-Soil health card is slowly transforming the destiny of farmers, transparent auction processes is helping in curbing corruption. 

In a push to infrastructure development, 26 KM roads are being constructed per day now as compared to 5 KM per day earlier. 

Referring to cooperative federalism in action, the Prime Minister said economic and even foreign policies are now developed in consultation with Chief Ministers. 

He also referred to the Swachta Abhiyaan which the country has adopted, leading to both economic reforms and improving the country's image in the world. 

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Next phase of Jan-Dhan to offer a range of insurance, pension services


Next phase of Jan-Dhan to offer a range of insurance, pension services
PM Narendra Modi said the banks should redouble efforts in financial literacy and seeding of Aadhar numbers with bank accounts needs to improve.
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday outlined the next phase of the Jan-Dhan Yojana to include credit, insurance and pension as he complimented bankers for near 100% coverage of households under the massive financial inclusion drive.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana is a key policy plank of the Modi administration's vow to eradicate what it calls "financial untouchability". Each bank account comes with an accident insurance cover, a RuPay debit card and a life insurance policy of Rs 1 lakh. Account holders will also be provided an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 later. 
 "Well begun is half done. The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana provides a platform for changing the economic condition of our people," Modi told bankers in his email.

"We need to build on this success and leverage these accounts to provide our citizens a wide range of credit, insurance and pension services. We also need to maintain high standards of customer service. This is the next phase of Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana," the PM said.
 
He said the target set for opening bank accounts for all households has been surpassed well ahead of the target date of January 26, 2015. "By opening 11.5 crore new accounts in a very short span, we have achieved a coverage of 99.74% of all households in the country. I congratulate you for your extraordinary efforts," the PM said in his email.

He said doubts were expressed when the drive was launched but the bankers had proved skeptics wrong by achieving "what appeared to be impossible".

"This feat alone should motivate you, as well as others to work to make our dreams a reality," the PM said.
 
Modi said the banks should redouble efforts in financial literacy and seeding of Aadhar numbers with bank accounts needs to improve. "Bank Mitras need to be enabled to carry out RuPay card and Aadhaar enabled transactions in villages itself," the PM said.

"I want you to work to ensure that each account holder enrolls for Aadhaar and seeds it in the bank account. This needs to be done for all accounts. I am sure you will do this seeding with the same zeal you showed in driving bank account opening," he said,

He said most development activities were hindered by the single disability of not having bank accounts but now that it been overcome, "benefits have already started flowing to people through some of the "direct benefit transfer" schemes. This not only ensures that benefits reach people directly, but also utilizes your accounts well," he said.
 
"This is your great contribution to nation-building. We will ensure that many more schemes utilize the DBT platform," he said.    

Monday, December 29, 2014

RuPay debit cards could be the Jan Dhan Yojana’s undoing


The lack of formal banking and cash is one of the toughest constraints in the rural areas of India. The Jan Dhan Yojana might be the best strategy to overcome this. But this ambitious scheme has one critical flaw that could ruin it and result in its failure to deliver on promises: the RuPay debit card. To ensure the success of the yojana, it is essential that the RuPay debit card plan be shelved, because it poses a huge reputation risk — the failure of the card could have damaging consequences for the scheme as a whole.

For families which have been offered bank accounts under the scheme, the advantages of a cash-based economy are just a step away. Except in the case of the lowest deciles, poor families do have some assets but, in the absence of a ready market for them, they are forced to make distress sales for even routine transactions. Having cash in the bank and, more importantly, a way to easily deposit and withdraw money, will be a force-changer for these families once the banking habit spreads.

The weakness in the system comes from the introduction of the debit card. It introduces the risk of a third party meddling with the savings bank deposits of crores of first-time account users. Earlier government programmes have become non-starters for similar reasons. But before going into this in detail, just imagine the landscape the debit card would create for new bank account holders. Recollect the tense times we went through when we first got cards — debit or credit. Recollect those tentative moments eons ago, when we operated an ATM machine for the first time.

In lakhs of villages across India, instead of offering frugal banking, we are trying to replicate these experiences. The debit card has to be preserved, kept reasonably dust free and intact for its magnetic strip to operate. Though the account won’t be frozen if the card is not used, the accident insurance cover gets cancelled if it is inactive for 45 days.

But this isn’t the chief obstacle. Repeated observations of auditors and independent studies about previous government schemes throw up two concerns. First, there is always one stage or point at which the beneficiary has to approach the district administration or the bank to get into the scheme. This is the point at which money could leak out of the scheme. The second concern is complication. The RBI list of frequently asked questions on the Jan Dhan Yojana, sent to all banks, acknowledges this — the “branch manager will have to advise all the related risks to the illiterate account-holder at the time of issuance of RuPay card”. The RuPay debit card is in line to be the leakage point from the scheme. It has the weakness of being complex and requiring a third party to administer.

The results could be devastating. Remember, for instance, in the Integrated Rural Development Programme, the loan scheme had two components: a subsidy provided by the government and a loan given by the bank. People may recall the standing instructions issued by bank headquarters to hand over the subsidy to the district or zila parishad representative but not to disburse the loan. The recipient got some money, the officials took a cut, and there was no pressure to repay a loan.

The Jan Dhan overdraft could meet the same fate, of being parcelled out, with the account holder getting the smallest share. To reduce the hassle and risk of keeping the card with themselves, a sizeable percentage of people, typically the weakest, might give it to someone else for safekeeping — a village leader or the bank manager. This is a real risk. The account holder knows if she does not put more money in the bank, she is safe from further loss, so, she will keep her account dry. Yet the safekeepers could purloin the account holder’s share of government subsidy.

The RuPay debit card’s problem is that it is a physical object and, like any government property, lends itself to widespread misuse. A far better option would have been a frugal banking plan based solely on a single-number platform like Aadhaar, with biometric identification, or a telecom number-based identification platform like M-Pesa for the Jan Dhan account holders to remember and use. Every benefit could have been credited to this account.

The debit card adds nothing to the experience of operating a bank account for the new entrant but has all the elements necessary to wreck it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Account balance a necessity for Jan Dhan: SS Mundra

Jan Dhan yojana: No fresh a/c needed to get benefits of scheme 







 

RBI deputy governor SS Mundra defends the scheme as a great start and says the government's direct benefit transfers will see more accounts getting used.

Banks have surpassed the Jan Dhan target of 7.5 crore accounts amid current tally standing at 9 crore new accounts. However, frantic target chasing has meant probably 30 percent of accounts are for already banked customers. Effectively, only 40 percent are operational with some money in the account, making no sense giving mandatory RuPay cards.

RBI deputy governor SS Mundra defends the scheme as a great start and says the government's direct benefit transfers will see more accounts getting used. Mundra says, “There was an operational lag initially between opening accounts and issuing of RuPay cards, but that takes time. Of late, gap has narrowed but the necessary ingredient is balance in the accounts.”

In the race to reach their targets, banks have opened accounts for some who already have accounts. Sometimes customers have beguiled bankers hoping to claim the insurance benefits that come with the new account.





“Yes, there were cases where people believed only new account would give entitlement to benefits. I can't give exact no of duplicate accounts but some surveys done show 30 percent duplicity. Disregarding the same, residual figure is still near original target”, he adds.

While duplicate accounts are not illegal, the bigger problem is that new accounts make sense only if some money is saved or spent. Mundra, like many bankers maintains that any serious usage of the new accounts will only take effect when government’s transfer benefits like food and fertiliser subsidy pass through them.

Mundra took over as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, in charge of banking supervision and financial inclusion at a time when the new government had just lifted financial inclusion to mission mode with its Jan Dhan Yojana.

Inclusion has always been the central bank’s stated goal and an area of expertise for Mundra. He was the chairman of the committee on financial inclusion set up by the Indian Banks Association as also of the Nachiket Mor Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small business and low income households.

As former chairman of Bank of Baroda and a career banker for 37 years, Mundra is also best endowed for supervising banks as a regulator at a time when loan defaults are running high.

Below is verbatim transcript of the interview:

Q: Jan Dhan is now almost six months old. Are we getting very close to the targets?

A: If we are talking in terms of figures then targets are already behind. If you recollect when Jan Dhan had started it had aimed at opening 7.5 crore or 75 million accounts. The last tally is almost 9 crore, so 90 million accounts have already open. So in terms of number of accounts to be opened certainly that milestone has been reached.

Jan Dhan was not only about opening the account and that is where the Reserve bank had been expressing all those things that opening of account is just the first step. It is very crucial that the accounts are operational and they bring certain desirable outcomes and larger outcome would be to inculcate a saving and investment habit in the people who are coming to the formal banking sector for the first time. But there is no denying the fact that for doing all that you have to have an account and that has been done.

Now it is also crucial to do some more steps. So the linking of this account with Aadhaar, the DBT should start flowing, the people themselves would start saving, but I am happy to see, when I look at the latest figure and I understand that now these accounts, though more than 60 percent of them are still not operational, but the account that are operational have already accumulated a saving of around Rs 7,000 crore, as per the latest data available. So, that is heartening, but as I said a number of things are yet to be done.

 Q: Are operational accounts using RuPay card, how many of them are operational?

A: No, again we are getting too impatient about it. Opening the account itself and that is going on in mission mode. Initially, for obvious reasons there was a substantial lag between the opening of account and issuance of RuPay card. Issuance of RuPay card involved some more logistics, which takes its own time.

Q: It gets posted.

A: Yes, But of late the gap has narrowed. So, now we say that accounts opened are around 9 crore, maybe the RuPay card has been issues in 6 crore plus account. Now everything is interlinked. You don’t use a RuPay card on zero balance account. So, the necessary ingredient is that there has to be a balance in the account and moreover the issuance of RuPay card is one thing, then educating the people to use those cards. Let us be mindful of the fact that a number of people who are coming in this maybe a first time user of banking services.

7 things to know about Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

7 things to know about Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
 

New Delhi: On 15th August 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from the historic Red Fort, had announced the launch of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). The primary aim of this scheme is to provide poor people access to bank accounts. However, the account comes with some benefits as well.

India TV brings you seven must-know points about PMJDY:

1. The scheme covers both urban and rural areas of India. All bank accounts will be linked to a debit card which would be issued under the Ru-Pay scheme.  Rupay is India’s own unique domestic card network owned by National Payments Corporation of India and has been created as an alternative to Visa and Mastercard.

2. Under this scheme, every individual who opens a bank account becomes eligible to receive an accident insurance cover of up-to Rs 1 Lakh for his entire family.




3. A person who is already having a bank account with any bank need not open a separate account under PMJDY. He/she will just have to get issued a RuPay Card in his existing account to get benefit of accidental insurance. Over-draft facility can be extended in the existing account if it is being operated satisfactorily.

4. Accidental Insurance coverage under PMJDY: Accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh is available to all RuPay card holders in the age group of 18-70 where RuPay card needs to be used once in 45 days of receipt. Claim intimation should be given to his or her bank where account is maintained within 30 days from the date of accident.

5. Life Insurance coverage under PMJDY. Only one person in the family will be covered and in case of the person having multiple cards/accounts, the benefit will be allowed only under one card i.e. one person per family will get a single cover of Rs 30,000. The claim of Rs 30,000/- is payable to the nominee(s) of account holder who need to submit necessary documents to the Nodal Branch of the concerned  Bank. Government employees (serving/retired) and their families, persons filing Income Tax Return/TDS deductees and persons covered under the Aam Adami Bima Yojana, are ineligible for Life insurance under PMJDY.



6. Once the bank account has been active for 6 months and linked to Aadhar card, the person would become eligible for an overdraft of up to Rs 2,500 which would further be enhanced by the bank to Rs 5000 over time.

7. The scheme also provides incentives to business and banking correspondents who serve as link for the last mile between savings account holders and the bank by fixing a minimum monthly remuneration of Rs 5000.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Finance Ministry asks banks for early issuance of RuPay card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

The Finance Ministry has asked banks to expedite issuance of RuPay debit card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PYMJDY).


The Finance Ministry has asked banks to expedite issuance of RuPay debit card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.

"Banks were asked for early issuance of pass books and RuPay Debit Cards to customers and organise one month as 'RuPay card activation Month' to increase activation of RuPay card," an official statement said.

In a review meeting of PMJDY held recently, all the banks have been advised to cover the gap including of their Regional Rural Banksby December 15.

As per status presented in the meeting, banks have opened 8.39 crore accounts under PMJDY and have issued 5.32 crore RuPay cards leaving a gap of 3.07 crore.

It was discussed that Aadhaar numbers have been seeded in 30 per cent of account opened under PMJDY, it said.

Banks were asked to aware the customers for Aadhaar seeding and to use various channels including SMS, internet Banking and ATMs for seeding of Aadhaar numbers, it added.

The meeting chaired by Anurag Jain, Joint Secretary (FI), Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance banks were asked to make efforts in area of financial literacy in coordination with various agencies and existing Financial Literacy Centers to spread awareness on PMJDY and use of RuPay cards etc.

Executive directors of the banks who participated in the meeting were also asked to arrange for sensitising of their staff members and training for Bank Mitras among others.

During the review, special focus was given on completion of household survey work and coverage of all uncovered households. It was informed that 97 per cent survey work has been completed.

It is found that out of 20.28 crore households, 17.28 crore households have been covered including persons already having bank accounts.
 It was decided that strategy should be framed in such a manner so as to cover remaining uncovered 3 crore households by December 26.

Thereafter the same should be duly publicised through local media that all uncovered households as per survey have been covered and public feedback should be obtained for information about uncovered households, if any, it said.

"For this purpose, information may be given by a person who doesn't have bank account himself or anybody having this knowledge by contacting toll free numbers," it said.

"This process should be carried-out in close supervision and coordination of local district administration. Complete saturation of uncovered Households should be achieved by January 26, 2015," it added.

The Finance Ministry has asked banks to expedite issuance of RuPay debit card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PYMJDY).

"Banks were asked for early issuance of pass books and RuPay Debit Cards to customers and organise one month as 'RuPay card activation Month' to increase activation of RuPay card," an official statement said.

In a review meeting of PMJDY held recently, all the banks have been advised to cover the gap including of their Regional Rural Banks ..

Read more at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45387629.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
The Finance Ministry has asked banks to expedite issuance of RuPay debit card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PYMJDY).

"Banks were asked for early issuance of pass books and RuPay Debit Cards to customers and organise one month as 'RuPay card activation Month' to increase activation of RuPay card," an official statement said.

In a review meeting of PMJDY held recently, all the banks have been advised to cover the gap including of their Regional Rural Banks ..

Jan Dhan scheme rush: Banks run short of passbooks

Beneficiaries of the Centre-sponsored Jan Dhan scheme are yet to receive their passbooks even after opening accounts two months ago as banks are facing a severe shortage of booklets.

According to a data provided by Syndicate Bank— the lead bank for the project in Meerut circle—over 1.75 lakh accounts have been opened under this scheme in Meerut. District manager of the lead bank, BD Pandey, said, "About 70% new account holders have been given the passbooks but the accounts are opened in such huge numbers in all the banks that it is not possible to provide passbooks to all the costumers. The crisis is not just in Meerut, but prevails in entire state. All the banks are sending their demands to concerned head offices but it will take some time to fulfil the demand."

The situation in Baghpat district is worst. Here, over 36,000 accounts have been opened under the scheme but only 40% costumers got their passbooks. A number of costumers did not even get their account numbers. A resident of Brahamanputthi village in Baghpat, Sonam, said, "I have been visiting the bank for last two months continuously but neither had I got my account number nor the passbook. Every time bank officers tell me that account number will be given with the passbook."

Amidst such situations, the residents are worried over the fact that how they would deposit their savings without having a bank account number and enjoy the benefits of the 'Jan Dhan scheme.'

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is a scheme for comprehensive financial inclusion launched by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on 28 August 2014. He had announced this scheme on his first Independence Day speech on 15 August 2014. Under this scheme, account holders will be provided zero-balance bank account with RuPay debit card, in addition to accidental insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. Those who open accounts by January 20, 2015 over and above the 1 lakh accident cover, they will be given life insurance cover of Rs 30,000.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jan Dhan scheme goes against KYC norms, is time bomb for banks



Do not get me wrong. I believe financial inclusion is a wonderful initiative and everybody should have access to a bank account. The concern I have is how this should be done.

Shortly after the budget, on August 28, the Jan Dhan scheme was announced. Its purpose was to make opening a bank account attractive and thereby to coax individuals who do not have a bank account to open an account. As sops there were several inducements – the account could be opened with no deposit; accident insurance of Rs 1 lakh; life insurance cover of Rs 30,000; an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 and a RuPay debit card to withdraw money.

Banks were asked to promote Jan Dhan, and in the first ten days a mind boggling 3 crore accounts were opened. By October 7, 5.52 crore accounts had been opened.

My concern stems from various factors.

The first is that the account can be opened with just two signed photographs. An individual does not have to submit PAN card or Aadhar card or any other documentation. My concern here is two-fold. This submits that no real verification of an individual is required and that goes against the purpose of the Know Your Customer (KYC) rules that were brought in to check money laundering and terrorist activities.

Earlier before these rules were enforced individuals opened accounts in fictitious names to "bank" their black money. The other worry is that individuals will have multiple accounts in different banks which they may then misuse for the benefits under the scheme. The one-page account opening form has a column seeking self-declaration that a person does not have any account in any bank. This self-declaration is meaningless as there is no mechanism to stop multiple accounts. Furthermore there is no inter-bank arrangement to stop duplication.

Bankers agree that accounts opened without a valid address proof are high risk. They are unable to do anything though in this regard as the scheme permits accounts to be opened with two signed photographs.

The Prime Minister after announcing the scheme wrote to the chairmen of all public sector banks to aggressively open accounts – the target given was 7 crore accounts. The large number of accounts opened is testimony to the enthusiasm displayed by these worthies. State Bank alone opened 11,300 camps solely to open Jan Dhan accounts. Others were not far behind. There have been 12-hour Saturday camps and account opening Sundays. The issue that needs to be addressed is whether banks can service these accounts. Service in some of the large public sector banks are often found wanting. The infrastructure does not exist to handle this volume. No one seems to have addressed the issue on banks expect to manage this.

In the initial years of bank nationalisation, public sector banks were given targets that had to be met. There were loan melas held and large amounts were disbursed. These ended up as bad loans as the recipients viewed these loans as a right. I remember a public sector banker who told me that he was told that he should disburse amounts to farmers for digging wells. In this endeavour he would meet villagers who had land and force them to take money to dig wells they did not ask for.

The aim was to meet the target. More often than not the money was spent for another purpose as no follow-up was done and in time they became bad debts. I foresee a situation that is similar. Many will run up an overdraft of Rs 5,000 and then disappear off the grid or open another Jan Dhan account at another bank and in time run up another overdraft. Public sector banks labouring with huge non-performing loans cannot afford to be saddled with another potential time bomb. I foresee too that even though bankers may say that all will not be permitted to run up an overdraft, there would be political pressure that will be brought to bear and bank managers may have no alternative.
I honestly hope these concerns do not become a reality but I am frightened. We, as a race, have a tendency to subvert even the best of intentions and financial inclusion is a good thing.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Aadhaar not mandatory to open bank account under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan scheme

Beneficiaries display their RuPay cards during the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana in Chennai on Thursday.

Account openers will get a RuPay Debit card with an in-built accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh and a pass-book immediately.

Opening a savings bank account just got easier and faster. With the launch of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, customers can walk into a public or private sector bank with their Aadhaar card and open a zero-balance SB account instantly. But Aadhaar is not mandatory. A National Payment Corporation of India platform is being built to enable customers to access their accounts on mobile devices. 

Account openers will get a RuPay Debit card with an in-built accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh and a pass-book immediately. An additional Rs. 30,000 life insurance cover will be offered for those opening the accounts before January 26, 2015. Also, an overdraft facility of up to Rs. 5,000 will also be permitted for Aadhaar-enabled accounts after satisfactory transaction in the account for six months. 

However, Aadhaar is not mandatory for opening the account under this scheme.A technical platform has been built by National Payment Corporation of India to connect all banks and telephone network operators in the country. The platform is being built to enable customers to access their accounts on any mobile handset.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

RuPay cards to replace Aadhaar in welfare scheme authentication

NEW DELHI: The finance ministry has decided to limit Aadhaar's role in its welfare scheme payments and, instead, use ATM-enables RuPay cards for last-mile authentication to withdraw money.

Rejigging India's existing ATM network to make it Aadhaar (& biometric) ready would be expensive, experts said. There is another reason why some banks want to retain authentication with them — UIDAI wants to charge for its authentication service.

While it will continue to use Aadhaar for opening accounts and to eliminate ghosts and duplicates from beneficiary rolls, the ministry has decided to give RuPay ATM cards with bank accounts being opened under to-be-announced financial inclusion drive, Sampoorn Vittiyea Samaveshan, government officials told ET.

"We do not want that an account holder should be restricted on a particular technology platform. By providing RuPay powered ATM card the account holder can transact on multiple platforms," a senior finance ministry official said on the condition of anonymity. This is a large blow to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which has, till now, regarded authentication services as one of its principal functions.

Government welfare payments were seen as one of the biggest potential revenue streams for Aadhaar. Vijay Madan, director general at UIDAI, did not respond to an ET email about the impacts of this development as of press time. Puneet Chopra, associate director at Lucknow-based financial inclusion think-tank Microsave, said, "Selection of RuPay card means authentication will be PIN based."

Several reports from field have said that online biometric authentication is not working for manual labourers and the old. UIDAI had notified handheld device specifications all business correspondents (BCs) need to follow. This was, however, opposed by BCs using different technologies such as smart card-based biometrics or no biometrics at all.

Abhishek Sinha, the founder of Eko, a mobile based banking provider, had told ET at that time: "Different villagers might be more comfortable authenticating their identity through a card, a phone, a fingerprint or a numeric code. The network should be able to accommodate all those options, and leave room for innovation."

RuPay cards to replace Aadhaar in welfare scheme authentication

With the latest development, Aadhaar will be used to identify bank accounts of beneficiaries, as both bank and government databases will be seeded with the Aadhaar number. However, once the cash flows into the Aadhaar-linked bank account, last-mile authentication when the money is being withdrawn will be done using the authentication systems of either the relevant bank or last-mile service provider such as BCs or a cellphone company.

MS Sriram, visiting faculty at IIM Bangalore's Centre for Public Policy, said it is a good idea to use Aadhaar only for seeding. "Linking bank accounts with Aadhaar number will help the government eliminate ghosts and duplicates from beneficiary lists," he said.

Also, rejigging India's existing ATM network to make it Aadhaar (and biometric) ready would be expensive, experts said. There is another reason why some banks want to retain authentication with them — UIDAI wants to charge for its authentication service.

"Cost of Aadhaar authentication is an issue, even if the cost is kept at just 25 paise per authentication," said Sanjay Kuberkar, founder of Adrenaline Financial Inclusion Advisors. "There is at least one client bank of mine who is considering to use their own biometric authentication method instead of Aadhaar because of the cost implications," he said.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Will PM Narendra Modi's financial inclusion plan use Aadhaar for authentication?

In less than two weeks, PM Narendra Modi is expected to announce a new Financial Inclusion drive.
However, even as the anointed day - the 15th of August - draws near, key aspects of this drive are still unclear.

 

The programme, called Sampoorn Vittiyea Samaveshan (SVS), seeks to add 20 crore new bank accounts. These will be linked to Aadhaar. They will probably provide an overdraft facility. And they will be used for cash transfers.

Go deeper into the details, however, and you encounter a set of unresolved questions. Prime among them, the role of Aadhaar.

While researching this story, ET reviewed two drafts produced by the Department of Financial Services - one in June, and the second in July. The draft dated 8 July, 2014, says: "This account would be linked with the Aadhaar number of the account holder and would become the single point for receipt of Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) from Government/Local Bodies."

According to a source close to the UIDAI, who spoke to ET on the condition of anonymity, this phrasing suggests that while Aadhaar numbers might be seeded into bank accounts, it might not be used for authentication.

In other words, once the cash flows into the Aadhaar-linked bank account, last-mile authentication when the money is being withdrawn will be done using the authentication systems of either the relevant bank or the last-mile service provider - like a Banking Correspondent (BC) company.
Not using Aadhaar for last mile authentication has significant fallouts for the UIDAI. Which, among other things, has the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System as one of its key components, and sees authentication services as one of its principal functions and revenue streams.

Till now, the UIDAI has argued that Aadhaar-based authentication is needed to show that the DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) has indeed reached the targeted beneficiary.

However, from the field, this claim has been marred by persistent reports that online biometric authentication is not working for manual labourers and the old. Agrees Sanjay Kuberkar, The founder of Adrenaline Financial Inclusion Advisors, "The biometrics do not always work."

Another reason the UIDAI wants Aadhaar-enabled authentication is because that will further inter-operatability. A person can use her biometrics to access her account through any BC, any bank.
Says the source close to the UIDAI, "If banks or last-mile providers use their own proprietary (biometric) authentication technologies, then there will be no inter-operatability." In other words, a person with an account in United Bank may not be able to use a BC working with State Bank of India to access his account.

This is where the debate gets complex. Aadhaar has defined standards for Micro ATMs and Biometric Capture. Banks and BCs adhering to those standards, with BCs who have plugged into the bank's core banking servers, can send authentication queries all the way to the UIDAI's central ID repository. In this design, a beneficiary can access her account through any service provider if they are Aadhaar-compliant.

But, banks too have been creating their own biometric databases. And the question is whether authentication requests where one bank sends one biometric authentication query to another bank can be as interoperable as the Aadhaar ones.

Under former DFS Secretary DK Mittal, the department ran such pilots in Haryana. These too were online biometric authentications but the biometrics were stored with the banks. But those, says the UIDAI source, failed.

However, another way to ensure interoperatability is to use PIN numbers instead of biometrics. It is here that a proposal in the SVS documents is interesting. It proposes that all account holders be provided with a RuPay card. Says Kuberkar, "The card works at any ATM, and does not require biometric authentication."

Counters the UIDAI source, "Biometrics are safer than PIN numbers.

In contrast, PIN numbers can be used also by those who have trouble with biometrics.
There is another reason why some banks want to retain authentication with them. Aadhaar was planning to start charging for authentication. A decision which has now been deferred to December.
Says Kuberkar: "Cost of Aadhaar authentication is an issue, even if the cost is kept at just 25 paise per authentication. There is at least one client bank of mine who is considering to use their own biometric authentication method instead of Aadhaar because of the cost implications."

What does this seeding/authentication debate mean for reducing leakages? According to MS Sriram, visiting faculty at IIM Bangalore's Centre for Public Policy, it is a good idea to use the Aadhaar number only for seeding. "Linking bank accounts with the Aadhaar number will help the government eliminate ghosts and duplicates from beneficiary lists."

Such a move, he says, also addresses the concerns around biometrics not working and privacy. "Using Aadhaar only for seeding also takes care of some privacy-related questions. A trail of a person's movements will not be available any longer at the central server."

About ten days ago, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) was expected to present an updated iteration of SVS to the Prime Minister. This was shortly after he reposed his faith in the UIDAI project. It is yet unclear what transpired in that meeting. The documents in the public domain pre-date that meeting. Emails to DFS officials seeking an appointment went unanswered.

However, based on conversations with UIDAI officials and Banking Correspondent (BC) companies, it seems there is little clarity on this question on how Aadhaar will be used.

Not sharing client data, says NPCI

MUMBAI: National Payments Corporation of India - Reserve Bank of India's brainchild which manages the backbone of the country's payments systems - has been asked to pay a token fine of Rs 10,000 to the Maharashtra treasury for passing on highly sensitive personal data to processing companies without a non-disclosure agreement. NPCI has contested the order by the state government's principal secretary (information technology) denying both charges - of compromising individual personal data and of not having non-disclosure agreements.

The adjudicating officer's order was in an intellectual property rights tussle between two companies that processed card transactions for banks. CredenTek Software, an IT company, had complained against In Solutions Global (ISG), which specialized in processing card transactions for banks. NPCI came into the picture as it emerged that it was one of ISG's major clients.

"We had filed a case against In-Solutions Global for source code violation and as part of our evidence we had submitted CDs containing sensitive personal data of bank customers which was handed to our clients by ISG," said Prashant Mali, Cyber Law & Cyber Security Expert from Mumbai who represented CredenTek for this case.


Hearing both sides, the adjudicating officer - Rajesh Aggarwal, principal secretary (information technology) - said in his order that no case is made out of data theft or source code stealing under the IT Act and it is a dispute regarding contracted services not being rendered rather than a copyright issue. While he dismissed the source code, he said that during the course of hearings, "a more sinister crime of negligence under the IT Act came to light" and expressed shock that real data of bank customer transactions was passed on as sample data for testing software rather than simulated data.

When contacted, NPCI said it does not share any confidential information with any party and has strong privacy policy based on international standard and its and has been awarded certificate for this. NPCI said its electronic clearing and settlement system was "safe and highly secure". and was compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. NPCI said it has entered into a non-disclosure agreement with In-solutions Group, which has been filed with the application before the IT secretary of the Maharashtra government - the plea has not been disposed of so far.

"The order passed by the IT secretary against NPCI was without jurisdiction and ultra vires and beyond the powers. There was no proceeding initiated by the IT secretary, government of Maharashtra, against NPCI under any law. Even no notice was issued by IT Secretary before issuing order for payment of penalty. NPCI has already challenged his order as soon as it came to knowledge of NPCI by filing an application for review application," it said in a statement.

NPCI, which manages the ATM switch, Rupay and other payment networks such as IMPS that allow electronic funds transfers between banks, has been upset at the strong remarks made by the adjudicating officer without being heard. In the order, the adjudicating offer had said what was "more worrisome" was that NPCI is also running the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System, which includes Aadhaar number (UID) of the customers. Now, UID number is perhaps the most sensitive data of an Indian citizen, which needs to be protected even more than the Social Security Number (SSN) of USA, as it has linkage to biometrics (fingerprints and Iris). Obviously, UID number cannot be published on any website by any government department, and should be used for any Analytics or any other purpose, only with proper precautions as per Rules 6 and 7 of Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Can Aadhaar survive without govt backing? Experts discuss

The key question is, if the next government were not actively back Aadhar, has the system created enough mass of benefits for state governments, banks, and the lay citizen to want the scheme to continue?

The unique identity or the Aadhar was one of the high profile projects of the UPA government. By roping in India's smartest technocrat, Aadhar was the UPA's way of using cutting edge technology to transfer benefits in a corruption free manner. But, after five years of backing, last week the government put on hold its program of paying cash on the basis of Aadhar identity to those entitled to subsidised LPG gas cylinders. LPG was the only instance where Aadhar was used to transfer cash instead of subsidies on a national scale and this discontinuation is a big setback to Aadhar.

But, there are bigger dangers bedevilling Aadhar. The Supreme Court has said Aadhar identity cannot be mandatory to get government benefits. The government in the remaining two weeks won't be able to get a law to mandate Aadhar and worse, the BJP has been saying it prefers the national population register to transfer benefits than Aadhar . The key question is, if the next government were not actively back Aadhar, has the system created enough mass of benefits for state governments, banks, and the lay citizen to want the scheme to continue.

In an interview with CNBC-TV18’s Latha Venkatesh, Sanjay Jaju, IT Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, M Balachandran, Chairman of National Payments Corporation, a company that ensures cheaper payment systems between banks and Govindraj Etiraj, former editor of CNBC-TV18, who has served one year as a volunteer in the UIDAI, share their views on the future of Aadhar.

Below is the verbatim transcript of their interview with CNBC-TV18's Latha Venkatesh
Q: As a leading bureaucrat who has used Aadhar in your state just tell us to what extent is Aadhar important for Andhra Pradesh government to transfer benefits?
Jaju: Andhra Pradesh is one state which has actually completed the enrolment for the entire population. More than eight crore Aadhar numbers have been generated for our state and rest of the numbers are in the pipeline. We have also setup permanent enrolment centers for residents to come and update their Aadhar status or for the residual population to get themselves enrolled.

We are the first state also to start the seeding of various beneficiary databases with Aadhar numbers and we were also the first state possibly to have started the direct benefit transfer (DBT), especially with the LPG, NREGA wages and pensions. We had started to make use of Aadhar as a base for DBT. There were challenges, but I am sure this holds a huge potential and definitely has a future for the country.

Q: To what extent do you use Aadhar?
Balachandran: The day Aadhar became an identity kind of thing, the thought process went to the extent that why not it be linked to the bank accounts, so that any kind of payments that could be made from any source more particularly from government\\'s side could be routed through that number with that as an identification. As far as National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is concerned, we are leveraging our national financial switch for routing all the payments which have Aadhar number as an identity. That presupposes seeding of Aadhar numbers in the bank accounts. Today we have about 268 banks wherein this seeding has taken place. We started with a pilot project in Jharkhand in January 2013 and now it has become operational from June 2013.

Q: Approximately how much money or how many transactions? Give me a number as to how many transactions are Aadhar based?
Balachandran: Right now we have about 60 million accounts which have been linked to Aadhar. We have an Aadhar payment bridge as a kind of channel for routing these transactions. Roughly around Rs 2,700 crore have so far been channelized. Every month, in fact in December we had around 11 million transactions routed and January it had gone up to 15 million. What started as a DBT for routing the subsidy for LPG now got expanded to other benefits as well like pension payments, student stipends, so on so forth.

Q: You were telling that it is also getting used by banks for banking correspondence to ensure financial linkages.
Balachandran: Yes, that is another module that we have which is known as Aadhar enabled payment system wherein once the money gets into the accounts of the people either through Aadhar payment bridge or through any other means, now we would like to see that people are able to draw that money through the banking correspondence. For that, we have RuPay as a debit card or ATM card which could be used and the beneficiaries or the account holders go to the banking correspondence.

Q: How widespread is it?
Balachandran: Now around 26 banks have already got themselves enrolled. It is picking up. These people go to the banking correspondence. Use their biometric identification process. Get their account validated through Aadhar number and get the money transferred, that is drawn and even if they have got amounts to be deposited the same system works. Aadhar now as a number identification is used by NPCI.

Q: I get your point that you have been able to have Rs 2,700 crore transferred by the government to intended beneficiaries.
Balachandran: 45 central government and state government departments. 45 departments in the center have been using these kind of accounts.

Q: I want the bigger picture. Where else have you seen the spread of Aadhar?
Etiraj: Aadhar was created for two reasons - one was to give every Indian resident a unique identity, so that is the primary purpose. Of course this identity would be truly portable and mobile which no identity has ever been in this country. Every identity in this country has been linked to either a benefit or an entitlement. Think of the US social security system. It is the only number that you can identify someone with, but it is a benefit or an entitlement that is social security. Similarly in India you have PAN numbers, you have driving licenses, you may have a pension numbers, but it is all a number which is connected to some entitlement or a benefit, so that is the fundamental difference, that this is a unique identity which does not have any property or value attached to it.

The second objective was to make this number truly usable and relevant to people in their daily lives, how do you attach some level of functionality to it. That functionality was authentication, i.e. if I go somewhere and if it is attached or gets connected to some service can I authenticate myself? Once you said authentication there were a host of services which was supposed to be for authentication. What you see as DBT is one such authentication application, the way UID defines it and there are many as Mr. Balachandran himself has pointed out. So that is really the background. It could be to get a telecom card, it could be to even open a bank account which has nothing to do with the transaction. So the whole e-KYC product which UID has launched basically allows people to walk into a branch. There are banks like Axis Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC), HDFC Bank, they have all started rolling out. You can go to their branch, authenticate yourself with your biometric and then open a bank account. Earlier opening of bank account meant carrying a whole sheet of papers.
Balachandran: KYC has been a big challenge, yes.
Etiraj: There is authentication. Under authentication comes a whole bunch of applications. Some are to do with delivery of subsidies and benefits. Others are to do with banking. There could be a third element to do with education and a whole bunch of other things which still has to be rolled out as I see it.

Q: In your experience to what extent is Aadhar responsible for the DBT not working, because that was the hue and cry which led to the abandonment of Aadhar being used in DBT?
Jaju: We just heard Mr. Balachandran that more than Rs 2,700 crore have actually being transferred so saying that DBT has not worked will also not be accurate, because amounts have gone. This entire process works on seeding Aadhar numbers in beneficiary databases and this job has to be done by the respective department. Once you seed the numbers then you push those records into the banks and then the banks will ultimately generalise it through the NPCI and then finally the amount gets into the bank accounts.

The challenge here has been accurate seeding of Aadhar numbers, which in many cases could not be done and the reason for that possibly was paucity of time. For a project of this nature to rollout you require time, not just to do the seeding, but to verify that the numbers which have been seeded have been done correctly.
We did not allow that time to be given for this particular project. Second aspect is it has to be done step by step. It cannot be done for the whole country in one go, because the nature of Aadhar enrolment also is not uniform across the country. There are states, there are districts where this has made significant progress and there are states and districts where still the number generation is very poor. So if you are planning to roll it out uniformly you will always face challenges in terms of the numbers being generated and the impact of it or the seeding of those numbers in the beneficiary databases.

Q: You are establishing that clearly it is not Aadhar to be blamed, but probably inaccurate seeding and not enough backing by the respective governments which might have led in several states for the system to not work.
Etiraj: LPG is a very interesting case. LPG was always a very good candidate because it was the oil companies who are equally interested in getting something like this going because they wanted to save on subsidies, so they were almost desperate to add this on.

Q: The sources close to the top management of oil companies said that when they first shared their databases they could read out purely through de-duplication some 10-15 percent of cards. So that was their biggest saving. In their Aadhar related areas if they looked at it where they could delete fake cards and ghost cards, the benefit was more like 2-3 percent, so while they were happy with it they thought that with Aadhar going away they were not really weeping that they are going to lose a lot of money they could have otherwise said.
Jaju: What I was trying to say it is not about the backing. One question you asked was, will a program like Aadhar survive as a voluntary exercise? To my mind it won’t. 

Q:
Yours was the happy case where both the central government and the state government were backing the project. What happens if that backing is removed? Will it be a lot of money wasted? How do you see it progressing?
Jaju: Yes, it would be. A project of this nature would definitely require the backing of the state, because here you are talking in terms of improving the targeting of the various welfare programs that the central government or the state government runs and you are trying to make use of Aadhar as an identity. Seed Aadhar into the beneficiary databases and use authentication mechanisms before you deliver the benefits to the targeted beneficiaries. So to my mind if you look at the post-Aadhar world you have two subsystems. First is the state subsystem, the government subsystem which is around the welfare programs that government run. Unless and until the state backs and not just back, they will have to very aggressively push Aadhar into the beneficiary databases and make this as the sole identifier and authenticate beneficiaries before the benefits are given.

Q: Your sense is the administrative officers will see the advantage of the program, they will back it. Do you think they will want to convince the new political masters of continuing, persisting with it?
Jaju: Obviously yes. We have reached a critical mass. We have generated more than 55 crore Aadhar numbers in the country.
Etiraj: When you say the colour of the next government and that determining whether Aadhar will continue there is no empirical evidence to show that any of the opposition government, if BJP is in the opposition for instance has really gone against it. You can see the top states - Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal, they include ruling government and non-ruling government. The point being that there are enough buyers for this in other party ruled governments or states as well and therefore the chances of this going are as good. Having said that, any government can junk any project. We have seen that before and that can happen again if someone so decides, but I think the merits of this in terms of this achieving what it was set out to achieve are pretty clear.

Q: My suspicion is that the banking system or the financial inclusion angle will want Aadhar to continue. What is your sense?
Balachandran: Absolutely. There are two things. One is Aadhar being used as an identification first…

Q: I am asking you to imagine a time when the government may not actively push it. In that case do you think there is enough steam in the banking system to want it?
Balachandran: That is what I have to say that going beyond the DBT this is an identification process where people would like to indentify themselves with this particular number. It could be for opening of a bank account or it could be for drawing of amounts from the bank account or it could be for any kind of KYC process. For instance in NPCI we have initiated e-KYC, that means anybody who has got an Aadhar number can simply step into any bank branch and use that number for getting themselves identified and it is instant. As of now NPCI is providing this service without any fee, otherwise you can imagine how much it becomes a hurdle for anybody to open an account. It is not only for bank accounts and it is being used for all other financial sector transactions.
Etiraj: I think we have to come back to the fundamental point, why was this created? Like I said there were twin objectives. First was to provide every Indian resident a unique identity. The other thing is there is a study which is being done by two professors, one from Stern which says that at least 25 percent of the identities that are being created due to the Aadhar exercise are actually first time IDs. One of the biggest problems in this country is that people do not have an ID or surely do not have a portable ID. If I have an ID which associates me with a certain function or a benefit in the state of Maharashtra it is useless when I go even two districts away, leave alone leaving the state. So that was the fundamental problem. If everyone agrees that this is something that is asset to the future residents of this country then this is something that surely will work.
Latha: There has been opposition to it. One from those who believe that the privacy is violated. There is opposition from those who believe that there is no security of data as well. So these could be advanced as well. nor has Aadhar ever been espoused as an instrument to control corruption. For instance, NREGS payments. NREGS payments can always be leaked out, siphoned out if there is a collusion between the administrative officials.
Etiraj: Since you mentioned NREGS 2.5 million transactions a month are happening to beneficiaries of NREGA. We did not touch NREGA so far, but 2.5 million transactions, in the context of India it is a very small number, but in the context of Aadhar it is reasonable.

Q: What is your hunch? Do you think there is enough private sector use for it or private sector has seen enough use for it to want it to continue?
Etiraj: I look at the number. 570 million Aadhars issued of an active population maybe of let us say 750-800 million assuming the rest are all children and so on who may not use it for a while. I think that is sufficient momentum for demand and push both. Mr. Balachandran spoke about the demand side and my sense is that the demand side will keep increasing. Sanjay Jaju also spoke about the demand side, my sense is that will keep increasing because people like him want to use this to clean up their databases and make their states more economically sound.
Latha: In terms of use, for instance in Chhattisgarh there is enough evidence that smart cards were used in several districts and those have been portable. Wherever there is a POS machine the smart cards could provide grains and they were a cheaper option.
Etiraj: Not necessarily, but that is a different argument. I think smart can never travel out. That is why said go back to the original proposition, national identity that is truly portable and dynamic. None of these things, whether it is a smart card wherever it is is truly portable in that sense except maybe in a limited area.

Q: Do you think this will survive without if the government made it voluntary and not mandatory?
Balachandran: It can still survive because there are multiple uses and people would love to have an Aadhar card.

Q: What is your sense? Do you think state governments will go ahead with it because enough benefit has been seen?
Jaju: I think it has achieved the critical mass and it will be very difficult to junk it by any government. It would definitely require the backing of the government to flourish although it may survive or it may limp, but we need this to flourish, because this has the key to the better targeting of the benefits and to my mind it also allows us to clean up our databases.
Latha: I take your point that it is likely that even without too much government backing, even without a future government saying it is mandatory perhaps Aadhar has come to stay.
Etiraj: As a journalist let me tell you, the beauty of the government project is, one, they can get junked. Other is once you have got something going it is very difficult to stop it. There are lot of things which technically should not be there, but are still running. In this case there is greater agreement that it should be running at least amongst the few of us here as opposed to not running.