UIDAI Launches 16-digit Virtual ID Number to Protect Aadhaar Details & Maintain Transparency


The UIDAI virtual ID will be temporary, revocable and can be used by users in place of Aadhaar number, which will protect the Aadhaar data

UIDAI, Aadhaar card, Aadhaar eKYC, UIDAI eKYC, eKYC
Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

If you are sceptical about revealing your Aadhaar details to telecom companies or other service providers such as PayTm and more while completing the electronic-know-your-customer (eKYC) procedure, you can now skip it. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched a virtual ID (VID) system on July 1 that will let individuals generate a 16-digit-number to use in completing the eKYC formalities.

The 16-digit-VID number can be used in place of the Aadhaar number

The VID system will be made fully operational from August 31 with it becoming mandatory for banks and other service providers to roll out the number. To obtain the VID number, users must either go to the UIDAI website or mobile app and enter their Aadhaar number. Following this, they will be provided with a one-time password (OTP) sent to their registered mobile numbers. After they enter the OTP, the VID number – a temporary, revocable and random 16-digit number, that can be used instead of the Aadhaar number.


Users can share this VID number instead of using complete Aadhaar details (as was the case till now) with any service provider or telecom company. According to the new rule, the government has made sharing complete Aadhaar data with global authentication user agencies (AUA) like banks and or the income tax (IT) department for verification of several important documents like issuing of PAN card and more. However, in cases of third-party service providers or e-wallets, users will only need to share their VID number and parts of Aadhaar details such as name, address and in cases, the photograph.  This reformed move has been taken following a series of allegations against UIDAI in the last few months due to a breach of Aadhaar data without the permission of users. “It will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from the virtual ID,” a circular issued by UIDAI stated.

Service providers must pay 20 paise per transaction for VID system as of now

Once the VID system becomes fully functional on August 31, facial recognition will also occur to assure privacy and strengthen protection of Aadhaar data. However, UIDAI has shown patience with e-wallets and other service providers who will need time to roll out this new system. As of now, every service provider must pay 20 paise per transaction for rolling out the VID system and can avoid continuing to do the same if they migrate to the VID process by July 31.

UIDAI has introduced a concept of limited KYC

Besides the VID system, UIDAI has also initiated a concept of a limited KYC category that doesn’t access the Aadhaar number. For this move, UIDAI has divided the Authentication User Agency (AUA) into two categories – a global AUA and a local AUA. While the former deals with a bigger network of customers and on a more macro level, the latter functions on a micro level. Therefore, the former can access Aadhaar details, but the latter will only access the eKYC instead of the original Aadhaar number. A global AUA might be a government, private or public legal agency that is registered in India and authorised to use Aadhaar details offered by UIDAI.

A challenge of the VID system in a situation where UIDAI is planning to promote a limited Ekyc concept is that the VID number is temporary and storage of Aadhaar is restricted, which means customers must generate a new VID for each service provider. To tackle this, UIDAI is planning to launch a token mechanism where after a local AUA sends an authentication request, UIDAI will revert a 72-character alpha-numeric string – a unique identity token, which will only function in the local AUA’s system.

What are the experts saying about UIDAI’s new move?

Nandan Nilekani, former UIDAI chairman expressed his positive views in a tweet that said: “Aadhaar is here to stay! Happy that the @UIDAI has introduced virtual ID and limited KYC in the spirit of continuous innovation to enhance privacy and security.”

Pranesh Prakash, policy director at think tank Centre for Internet and Society, said: “If virtual IDs are made mandatory (and they aren’t) that would address the privacy concern of multiple private entities being able to create detailed profiles of you by using your Aadhaar number. But it wouldn’t address concerns people have relating to security, to exclusion from benefits, to the centralized biometric database, nor to Aadhaar facilitating various governments gaining an overall view of your life.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Are you human? *