Friday, March 4, 2011

117 mobile numbers for One Person

A 34-year-old woman living in Turkman Gate recently discovered that she had 117 mobile connections in her name. Not once had she applied herself, and not one number belonged to her.

The only clue: she may have photocopied her voter ID sometime, say cops, which was used by several others as ID proof to get a mobile connection.

The DoT ( department of telecommunications) chanced upon her name in a random survey of customers' addresses. DoT has raised concerns of connections being given on forged documents, which are even used many times over by cellular operators to expand their customer base.

The woman in Turkman Gate (name withheld), belongs to a minority community and lives with her brother, having been abandoned by her husband. Until sleuths came knocking on her door, she was unaware that her name, identity and address had been misused in a public database.

"We believe that the woman might have photocopied her election ID card sometime in the past three years. There are some connections in her name which are around two years old. We suspect some unscrupulous persons used her ID for their own benefits," a officer who is part of the investigations said. "The woman has been cleared of any role in the incident. We have interrogated some men in the neighbourhood with interests in local PCOs, photocopy shops and mobile phone retailers, but we could not fix responsibility on anyone."

Officially, Delhi police remained tightlipped on the investigations though sources said 117 connections had been unearthed in the Turkman Gate case. Local cops have reportedly sent a report to the security agencies on this issue.

Earlier, in the first such case against major cellular operators, DoT had lodged a case of cheating and forgery against three service providers who had allegedly submitted forged documents with the department in order to expand their customer base across Delhi and NCR.

"We have registered three cases against three service providers after the ADG of the Telecom Enforcement Resources and Monitoring Cell, Akmal Hussain registered their complaint with us. DoT has carried out its own preliminary inquiries before approaching us," DCP (crime) Ashok Chand said. "The cases have been registered under sections IPC 420 (cheating), 468 (Forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) against the companies.

Under the rules, these companies had to verify whether the addresses provided by their dealers were genuine. But, preliminary inquiries show that on many occasions, the company management had not stopped services even when they noticed the forgery," he said.

Police said forgery had grown rampant over the past few years. "So far, around 143 such complaints have been verified to be true but we are still a long way off from even finishing the investigations," said a senior officer of the Inter State Unit of the crime branch, which is investigating the case. "There are similar allegations against at least two other service providers. The problems seem to have been come to the fore only since June 2009 when DoT detected such forgery in Delhi for the first time and sent notices to the respective companies."source

Shopping via Mobile Phones in INDIA

Soon bank account holders can make retail purchases by transferring funds from their account to the merchant's using a basic mobile phone. Reserve Bank of India's arm National Payments Corporation of India is putting in place a payment interface between consumers and merchants.

"Thirteen banks are part of the Interbank Mobile Payment System (IMPS) and 6.6 million customers have already been issued mobile money id (MMID)" said A P Hota, MD and CEO, NPCI. He said these customers could presently transfer money to any other bank account holder who has MMID. "At present, only peer-to-peer transfers can take place. We are now working at creating a system for payments to merchants," said Hota.

The banks which are part of IMPS include most of the large private banks and several public sector banks. "Transactions up to Rs 1,000 can be done through SMS, which means that any mobile phone is IMPS-enabled," he said. But for higher-value transactions, the mobile phone has to be GPRS-enabled and should facilitate end-to-end encryption.

Earlier, speaking on financial inclusion at the annual banking technology conference organized by the Indian Banks Association, Hota said that NPCI was pushing banks to extend mobile payments service to 'no-frills' customers. No frills accounts are a facility for the underprivileged customers to allow them retain a bank account without any minimum balance requirements. These customers can however enjoy only limited features of banking as against regular customers who get full service subject to maintenance of a minimum balance.

At the seminar it became evident that there was a high dependency on mobile telephony services for extension of banking services to the unbanked. Firstly, banks are keen to use the reach of mobile service providers who already have 750m customers on whom they have already performed a `know your customer' due diligence. Lenders are also trying to replicate the success of mobile companies in profitably selling talktime in scratch cards of Rs 10 denomination. Banks also want to use the mobile services to achieve the last mile connectivity through business correspondents.

Citing a Boston Consultancy Group study, Selvam Veeraraghavan, GM, Indian Bank said "As against a branch transaction which costs Rs 40 to Rs 60, an ATM transaction takes place at Rs 13 to Rs 17. But an online transaction through a business correspondent is the cheapes at Rs 4 to Rs 6 per transaction".

According to Mr Veeraraghavan, mobile technology was suited for financial inclusion because of the level of penetration and the fact that even those who are not able to read or write are able to use mobile phones. source