India's Latest e-KYC Policy for Sim Cards 2018- All You Need to know !

For a long time, KYC and Aadhaar verification has been a pebble in the shoe for those looking to buy a functional Sim card in India and has caused a great deal of frustration and inconvenience, specially for tourists trying acquire a local Sim card for their stay.Until recently, the Indian Government required an ‘Aadhar card’ verification before issuing any sim card. An Aadhar card, along with a unique Aadhar identification code for each individual, is best described as being similar to the Social Security Number system employed by the USA. Only a person of Indian nationality can be issued an Aadhaar card. Therein lies the bane of many foreign travellers who, by virtue of not having an Aadhaar number, have to virtually jump through hoops in order to obtain a working Indian Sim Card for voice calling and internet data. In October, 2018, India’s Department of Telecommunication announced that Aadhar verification is no longer required to obtain an Indian Sim Card. This should have been a cause of celebration for travel enthusiasts and tourists. Furthermore, the promotion of the eKYC process (digital verification) should have had us ecstatic, right? At a glance, one would think so but looking closely, there isn’t much to be too happy about . Despite how much better it may sound in theory, the process for buying a new sim card hasn’t become any simpler. What is e-KYC ?KYC means “Know Your Customer”. It’s process by which regulating authorities ( Telecom Service Providers, Banks etc.) obtain information about the identity and address of the customers. This process helps to ensure that services are not misused. The KYC procedure is to be completed by service providers while opening accounts. e-KYC refers to an alternative digital process introduced by the Department of Telecommunications.Generally an identity proof with photograph and an address proof are the two basic mandatory KYC documents that are required to establish one’s identity. As mentioned, until recently, an Aadhaar card and Aadhaar number ( Unique Identification Number) were also required as KYC documents. What e-KYC Means for Foreigners/TouristsThe latest direction issued by the Department of Telecommunication, allows for fulfilment of E-KYC without a government issued Aadhaar number. This new provision, coupled with the term ‘E-KYC’ has led to some ambiguity. Taken at face value, ‘ e-KYC’ suggests an electronic or digital method for submitting pertinent documents via the internet in order to fulfill the KYC requirements needed to buy a local sim card.To help clarify the new regulation, the process for e-KYC is outlined below - The Entire process of eKYC verification will be undertaken by Licensees ( shops that sell sim cards) through authorised and official apps. e-KYC is done at Points of Sale or shops. Perhaps the most important omission in discussions about the new eKYC process is that a potential customer must be physically present at the Point of Sale ( PoS) or shop, where an Officially Valid Document for identification must be furnished. For example, an original and valid passport or a Driver’s License . At the Sim Card store, the merchant or shopkeeper Will take a live photo of the customer, that shall be embedded in a Client Acquisition Form ( C.A.F) by the storeowner. Further, this live photo of the customer shall be watermarked and must be geo tagged. i.e. include GPS coordinates along with time and date. These details are then embedded in the CAF by the shopkeeper, and sent to the regulatory telecom body for verification. Once a person’s KYC details are verified, that customer will be given access to an operating sim card. Evidently, the process of e-KYC is still tedious and quite inconvenient for a foreign visitor trying to buy a local sim card. Luckily, there is a virtually hassle free alternative!