A 12-digit randomly generated number is going to upend business in India. Aadhaar, India’s unique ID project, is already the world’s largest ID system with over 1.12 billion members.

Aadhaar wins over the multitude of unique IDs that already existed because of its requirement to collect the biometrics of the enrolling members (photograph, fingerprints and iris scan), which it uses to ‘de-duplicate’ them against existing members. Thus, every Aadhaar ID is in theory designed to be unique.

Notwithstanding multiple pending and ongoing cases against its very existence in the Supreme Court, and critics’ charges that it exposes Indians to privacy risks and data theft, Aadhaar is here to stay. From employment and subsidies to retirement benefits, it’s already being used extensively by the central and various state governments to deliver services to citizens.

And now it’s the turn of businesses.

The imposition of Aadhar is now a matter of when, not if, for most consumer-facing industries. It’s clear that the government wants to ‘seed’ Aadhaar into as many facets of citizens’ lives as it can. And it will do that through fiat, either overnight or if an industry is lucky, with a few months of grace time to comply.

When (remember, it’s just when now, never if) that happens, incumbents are going to be hit the hardest. Younger and newer ‘Aadhaar-native’ players will stand to win, especially if they’ve been preparing to not only accept Aadhaar but also embed it into the core of their own business operations.

This disruption and re-ordering have already started for some sectors, while for others it’s still only on the horizon. We’ve compiled a list of industry sectors where we see Aadhaar acting as a potentially disruptive force very soon. To make things interesting, we’ve imagined scenarios (not entirely impossible) that might happen.

Read on till the end of the article to know which scenarios are real and which ones are just (for now) our imagination.

There is certain diffusion time, we are in that phase, I am very confident in the coming years, Aadhaar based companies and application will be numerous

Nandan Nilekani


“Aadhaar KYC (Know Your Customer) to be made mandatory for all mobile connections in India, old and new. Those that aren’t Aadhaar verified would be deactivated within 30 days.”

Coincidentally, there are approximately the same number of mobile connections in India as there are Aadhaar numbers—1.12 billion. The majority of the connections that aren’t associated with an Aadhaar number are those belonging to the older incumbents like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone+Idea (now a merged entity).