Digital India - DigiLocker and E sign by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

A step forward towards digital India – DigiLocker and E-sign

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Digital Locker is a dedicated cloud storage space that is linked to each resident’s Aadhar card number. Each number has been provided 10 MB free space to store their e-documents securely. These documents can be accessed through the URI link directly from the repositories. The Digital Locker can be accessed via a web portal or mobile application.

Launched in July 2016, this initiative aimed to ensure the authenticity of e-documents to eliminate the use of fake documents and reduce the government’s administrative overheads. The idea of paperless governance would empower society digitally. Organizations that have associated themselves with the Digital Locker can upload electronic copies of documents and certificates directly to an individual’s locker. Citizens can also upload scanned copies of their legal documents to their locker. 

The documents that are uploaded by an individual require to be signed digitally using the e-sign service. This service is a secure way of signing electronic documents by using the Aadhar-enabled eKYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) method. The authentication of the signer and the sign is performed with separate identities. While Aadhar eKYC services authenticate the signer, the e-sign authentication is done by Certifying Authorities (CA) licensed under the IT act. They are highly regulated and legally binding. 

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” Sir Arthur C. Clarke

The integration of e-sign services with the Digital Locker has effectively put an end to the physical attestation of documents. So far, 30.60 million people have registered for the facility, and 3.53 billion documents have been issued to the locker, according to the DigiLocker. 

The future of this technology represents the evolution of Digital India. 

  • The hassle of carrying original physical copies of essential documents is going to be a thing of the past. There is always a fear of losing the documents or having them get stolen. Applying for new copies is tedious and time-consuming. With DigiLocker, all your documents are available at a single place and can be easily accessed and shared whenever and wherever necessary.
  • Applications for colleges (or other institutes) and jobs no longer call for a session that includes setting up a folder with physical copies of degree certificates, offer letters, relieving letters, and the like. Share your secured e-documents with just a couple of clicks.
  • While setting up new business ventures, there are tons of documents that you need to show and submit for seeking permissions and approvals from different departments of government and private offices. DigiLocker will help you avoid the painful process of physically getting each copy attested by an authority figure; this eases and speeds up the processing of documents. 
  • The government of India is running a lot of programs and schemes for the farmers and economically weak citizens. Having all identification proofs at one place with e-sign will help these people get easy access to government schemes and other benefits that used to be bureaucratic nightmares.
  • While applying for passports and visas, you no longer need to get anxious about whether you have the complete set. These used to be challenging processes where the lack of even a single physical copy of a document meant another appointment. With DigiLocker, one can self-attest the documents and submit them on the spot.
  • While traveling, you don’t need to carry all the documents. The easy and all-time access to your documents enabled by DigiLocker comes in handy in situations where you can send across any required documentation within the deadline from anywhere in the world.
  • Another benefit of storing and using e-copies is that this eliminates the need for storing paperwork for ages! This automatically solves the problem of loss of physical documents to rodents, water damage, or other physical factors. It also minimizes the creation and use of fake documents. 

This concept ran into a glitch when the Supreme Court banned private companies from using Aadhar eKYC. The court mentioned that the Aadhaar card could be used for receiving benefits for welfare schemes. Since the Fin-tech companies cannot use the Aadhaar eKYC verification method anymore, the operational cost of physically verifying the customer has gone up. According to another circular issued by National Corporation of India (NPCI), the use of e-sign based e-mandate products has also been suspended. As a result, financial institutions must move back to using physical mandates or net banking-based mandates. 

In the absence of digital verification, some procedures have become time-consuming. Mobile phone activation that used to happen on-the-spot now takes 24–36 hours for activation. Private firms and the regulators are trying to find an alternative KYC process. Video-based KYC or Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based solutions are being explored. The government is working hard to push past the barriers and strive for digital evolution in India.

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