Aadhaar at its Lowest in Authentication in June
Acccording to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the agency that administers the Aadhaar program, Aadhaar usage is at its lowest level in a year this June. Last September, 1.48 billion Aadhaar-enabled authentications were recorded–suggesting it had come down by 40%–registering usage in June 859 million times.
The crunch has showed up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s extension of the deadline for linking Aadhaar with several services and facilities, such as bank and mobile phone customer verification. The SC extension was announced three months back and is supposed to make a ruling shortly.
According to the SC verdict on May 10, the government has pushed the deadline for linking Permanent Account Number (PAN) to Aadhaar till March 31 next year. Also, the deadline for linking Aadhaar with acquiring subsidized rations has been extended by three months to September 30.
Aadhaar-enabled authentications have been gradually decreasing each month starting September. March was the only month when the number rose to 1.125 billion from 996 million in February, according to the UIDAI website.
Last September, Aadhaar authentications reached an apex of 1.48 billion, after which, within a month itself it fell to 1.46 billion. 966 million Aadhaar authentications were recorded last July, crossing the 1 billion mark within a month.
An Aadhaar authentication is recorded whenever a Aadhaar user avails of a service that is linked to their 12-digit Aadhaar number. A record is also made when a citizen submits biometrics (fingerprints, eye scan) or uses the one-time password (OTP) verification.
So far, no comments have been made from the UIDAI Chief Operating Officer AB Pandey on the decreasing of authentication, but The ET Tech quoted an anonymous senior government official who said that since Aadhaar was non-mandatory for some services, the decline in Aadhaar authentication had come about. “But one must also consider that there was a huge spike last September and October as the government was going full steam ahead with linking mobile phones and bank accounts with Aadhaar,” the official told ET.
So far, around 1.2 billion Aadhaar numbers have been generated, while more than 2 billion authentications have been confirmed, and around 5.7 billion eKYCs (electronic Know Your Customer) confirmed. In fact, the UIDAI eKYC trend also shows June 2018 as the month with the lowest number of transactions at around 200 million, coming down from around 450 million in November 2017.
“Saturation levels have been reached on Aadhaar linking and now the authentications are mainly regarding transactions being carried out by people to avail of welfare schemes and services,” the senior functionary said. “There is no reason to worry over the present authentication numbers…UIDAI will be raising its capacity to be able to carry out 3,000 million authentications every month.”
The constitutional validity of Aadhaar and if it is required to be mandatory for PAN, mobile phone connections, passports, subsidized rations, and bank accounts, has been in hearing with the SC since January this year. The apex court has pushed the deadline to link Aadhaar with services and facilities indefinitely in March.
Also the court has made it clear that linking mobile phones with Aadhaar was not part of its mandate and that the government has misconstrued its 2017 order. The SC is still looking into the issue of Aadhaar violating data privacy. It also ruled that Aadhaar cannot be rendered mandatory while submitting forms for national entrance exams such as the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).