Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues 'Aadhaar' cards, has added the feature in a bid to push for electronic-driven economy.
Explaining the facility, UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani said a person can walk into a bank branch, tell his/her 12- digit individual identification number (Aadhaar) and walk out with a bank account. The bank will connect with the UIDAI using an authorised service agent, generally a payment gateway, which in turn connects up with the UIDAI database, he said.
The only detail a customer has to give at the bank branch will be his/her fingerprint impression, Nilekani said. The facility is safer than the current practice of submitting photocopies of documents, Nilekani said, adding all the work happens electronically at the back-end.
"Fundamentally, all the infrastructure is falling into place now for creating a much more electronic, much more digital cash kind of an economy," he said, adding it has long- term ramifications, including making the economy cashless.
The authority, set up four years ago with the Infosys co-founder as its head, has rolled out 460 million Aadhaar numbers till now and is targeting to take this to 600 million (half of the country's population) by early next year.
Using the numbers as the base, it has helped rolling out a host of services, including direct subsidy transfer and person to person fund transfer using mobile phones.
The UIDAI chief said the e-KYC facility launched today has huge "strategic implications". Private sector Axis Bank became the first lender to offer the e-KYC (know your customer) account opening facility.
One Nitin Shah of neighbouring Thane district became the first person to open his bank account using Aadhaar. "Anybody can walk into a branch, give his finger prints and walk out with a bank account," Axis Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Shikha Sharma said at the launch.
Nilekani said the bank will roll out this facility across all its bank branches in ten days' time. However, he parried queries on expansion of the facility at other banks. The idea is to expand the e-KYC facility from here on, he said, adding it is possible for getting an insurance cover and applying for mutual funds using this feature.