NEW DELHI: The flow of cooking gas subsidy into Airtel Bank accounts, allegedly opened without customers’ consent, has accelerated with cumulative subsidy deposited in these accounts rising to Rs 168 crore at November-end from Rs 47 crore three months ago.
State-run oil companies and the oil ministry have written to AirtelBSE 0.77 % Bank, Department of Financial Services and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) about this, but that hasn’t helped. In its latest communication to NPCI, a state-run oil company has again requested deseeding of Airtel Bank accounts and reversal of such deposits to customers’ conventional bank accounts, which had previously received subsidy.
NPCI maps bank accounts with Aadhaar and oversees retail payments and settlement systems in the country. The public sector oil companies have alleged that the bank opened accounts of most of these customers without their consent, leading to immense inconvenience to them since many of them aren’t familiar with digital transactions and lack knowledge of using the subsidy lying in their accounts.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, has also warned Airtel Bank not to open bank accounts of Bharti Airtel’s mobile phone subscribers without taking their informed consent. Airtel has denied these allegations.
“Airtel Payments Bank has a clearly laid down process for opening of accounts, which are to be opened only after taking the explicit consent from the customer,” Airtel Bank said in response to ET’s query.
“Millions of Airtel Payments Bank customers, who have opted for the DBT (direct transfer of cooking gas subsidy) into the Airtel Payments Bank and received DBT amounts in their accounts, have also done cash withdrawals/other transactions at our access points. Therefore, to suggest that DBT credits have taken place without customer consent/knowledge and caused inconvenience is rather unfair,” the bank said.