Ten days after Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio, promised to roll out a superfast activation procedure for new SIMs within “2-4 weeks”, the facility is now available in several small towns, suggesting that the company may be running ahead of schedule on its e-KYC roll-out.
The new system has been rolled out with the help of the UID Authority of India.
Anyone who wants to buy a new SIM under the new system has to go with his Aadhaar card or number to the Reliance Digital or Digital Express outlet equipped with the facility.
At the spot, the person is asked to place his finger on a special fingerprint detector machine. The machine then scans his fingerprint information and sends it digitally to the UID Authority’s servers.
Based on the fingerprint information, the UID Authority gives a red or green signal indicating to the Jio whether the person is indeed linked to the Aadhaar number he or she provided.
Once a green signal is received, the Jio phone number is linked to the Aadhaar number and Jio starts the process of activating the connection.
While Ambani said the activation would be instant — and the person could walk out of the Digital store in 15 minutes with a working Jio connection — in actual practice, it takes 2-4 hours for the connection to be activated from the operator’s side.
The delay could be because of the enormous pressure that the telecom company is under with millions of customers trying to sign up.
Meanwhile, many users who submitted their documents using the traditional method are still waiting to have their connections activated.
It is not clear whether they can re-submit their identity documents using the new e-KYC system.
The e-KYC system is the primary purpose and benefit of the Aadhaar system.
Unlike traditional photo and document based identification, the e-KYC system is much more difficult to manipulate. Smart criminals and terrorists regularly use fake documents such as fabricated voter cards to buy SIM cards.
Under the e-KYC system, such misuses can be prevented to a large extent, as they will have to produce someone else’ finger if they are to impersonate that person’s identity. In addition, the UID database also has everyone’s iris-scan data as well, and in case of inconclusive matches, the system can resort to iris scans to give a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ identity.
To prevent misuse, the e-KYC system only gives a yes or no answer, and does not tell the agency — in this case Jio — the name of the person whose fingerprint has been presented in case of a mismatch. However, in special cases such as a security operation, the system will actually divulge the identity of the person whose data has been presented helping the security agency find the person’s real identity.
The system is expected to be soon rolled out in ATMs, which would help you withdraw money from your account without your ATM card.