India Eases Rules for New SIM Purchases

India Eases Rules for New SIM Purchases
The Indian government will allow consumers to activate new SIM cards using their Aadhaar IDs and fingerprints.

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(CCM) — In an effort to cut down on bulky paperwork, the Indian government will now allow for Aadhaar card and fingerprint verification at the point of-lsale for all newly issued SIM cards. Under the new e-KYC guidelines, customers will be able to authorize the Aadhaar department to provide telecom companies with personal and demographic information, such as their names, dates of birth, addresses, photographs, and digital signatures, just by providing their government-issued identification cards and thumbprints. This instant verification will not only significantly cut down the formerly-eight-to-ten-hour activation process, it will also allow consumers to skip the lengthy paperwork that once accompanied each new SIM purchase. "In e-KYC, digitally-signed electronic data provided by UIDAI (the department that handles Aadhaar) is machine readable, making it possible for licensees to directly store it as customer record in their database [sic] for the purpose of issuing a mobile connection," the telecom department cited in a notification.

Excited by the new guidelines, many of India's leading telecom companies, such as Airtel and Vodafone, are already planning to roll out an Aadhaar-based e-KYC this week. Both companies have expressed their support for the new initiative, citing, above other things, the huge time-saving component. In an interview with a newspaper, Airtel executives noted that customers will soon be able to walk into any store with their Aadhaar cards and walk-out, connected, within just a few minutes. Vodafone India’s managing director and CEO, Sunil Sood, noted in a separate statement, "For the consumer, instant activation means better experience and security of personal confidential information. For Vodafone, it will improve quality of sales as well as regulatory compliance."

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