Misunderstanding Aadhaar as proof of identity

This week, I collected my passport from the collection centre at BKC in Bombay using the credit-card-size version of my Aadhaar card as proof of ID. Just to see if it would work – no problems at all.

This is serious. I could have forged another person's Aadhaar card easily and picked up their passport, or someone could have forged my card and collected my passport. Mere possession of an Aadhaar card means nothing; it needs to be verified via any of an OTP, fingerprint scan or iris scan.

Or take this message SBI has sent its customers, demanding a photocopy of their Aadhaar card in order to link their A. number to their bank accounts:

It is trivial to link your Aadhaar number to someone else's bank account, or have your account linked to another's number.

When the largest bank in the land doesn't understand fundamentally how Aadhaar works, we have a big problem [1].

The government needs to launch an aggressive educational campaign if it is to build confidence in the mandatory use of Aadhaar for public and private services.

[1] If done right, Aadhaar-based verification (or linking) is far more efficient than processing paper. Imagine if I could walk into an SBI branch, type in my bank account number and Aadhaar like you do at web check-in counters, scan my finger and walk out. It would take less than a minute per person and no staff. Each branch likely has a fingerprint scanner already given that it's how they sign up new accounts.

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