Airtel Payments Bank: RBI lifts ban on new signups

Bharti Airtel said the Reserve Bank of India has lifted the restriction on signing up new customers imposed on its banking unit Airtel Payments Bank.

The restriction was imposed in January after reports that the company was signing up its mobile customers on its payments bank platform without seeking their full consent.

Payments Banks are a new type of bank introduced by the Reserve Bank three years ago. These banks are primarily meant to facilitate transactions, such as money transfer and payments, and are not allowed to take deposits or make loans.

Airtel was the first to introduce its Payments Bank around two years ago.

However, it soon ran into rough weather after allegations that many of the people that it had signed up for the banking service were not aware of what they were signing up for.

It also led to a Rs 5 cr fine on the bank by the RBI in March this year.

“Airtel Payments Bank has received requisite approvals from the Reserve Bank of India to start on-boarding new customers,” the company said today.

AADHAAR

Separately, the company had also been hauled up for misusing Aadhaar verification for onboarding new banking customers.

This led to a Rs 2.5 cr penalty imposed by the UID Authority of India as well as a ban on using the e-KYC platform.

This too has been sorted out, the company said today.

It said it has been “permitted by the UIDAI to resume the on-boarding of customers using Aadhaar based e-KYC.”

The issue came to light when cooking gas customers started complaining that they had stopped receiving subsidy reimbursements in their bank accounts.

According to the subsidy disbursement scheme, the amounts are credited to the latest bank account that has been verified or linked to the customer’s Aadhaar ID. The foul-up reportedly led to more than Rs 100 cr of subsidy money being diverted to Airtel accounts.

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