There was a little confusion if Aadhar was to be made mandatory or voluntary. But last year, the parliament passed a new act called Aadhaar Act and following which, Ajay Bhushan Pandey was made the first CEO of UIDAI.
As the person in-charge, he has to ensure that all operations complies with the Aadhaar Act. Talking about the significant enrolment Aadhaar has seen in one year, Pandey says, “We have taken the level of enrolment to 115 crore, which constitutes more than 99 per cent adults in the country. Even in the younger age group of 5-18 years, the coverage is more than 75 per cent.” Prior to this, he served at Aadhaar as DG and Mission Director. Aadhaar has truly come to a stage where people have started using it.
Another major initiative taken up by Pandey was taking the authentication to a fourfold increase. Sharing the same, he says, “Till last year, the authentication per day was around 50 lakh and now it has gone up to two crore.” The recent Supreme Court judgment has also made it mandatory to link Aadhaar with PAN Card. It has also been very useful in promoting the digital platform. After demonetization, Aadhaar facilitated the digital payment (Aadhar Pay) for those who do not have the means to do transaction digitally. Pandey’s team estimated that this number would be close to 50 crore.
Talking about the digital mode that Aadhaar had adopted, he says, “We came up with a concept called Aadhaar Pay where the shopkeeper would have to have his own smartphone with a biometric finger print scanner attached. The customer would have to provide his Aadhaar number, bank’s name finger print and the amount he has to pay. The money would be debited from his account and will go to the customer’s bank account.”
Now at a time, when people started trusting Aadhaar, Pandey’s biggest test is to ensure that the information they have shared with them is safe. To this Pandey says, “We know that we have a tremendous amount of responsibility that has been cast upon us to keep data of 115 crore people safe and secure. We keep on taking measures to counter every threat that is emerging in any part of the world. And I would like to mention here that during the last 7 years, not a single instance of identity theft or financial loss has been registered in our system.”
(This article was first published in the July issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)