No major issues noticed in bulk messages as new norms enforced: Trai

As its new norms on bulk messages came into force, Trai on Thursday asserted that no major incidents of disruption were noticed for commercial messages and OTP generation in sectors such as banking, healthcare and government services, and that issues were limited to "few" cases.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had earlier asked principal entities, including large banks, to fulfil the stipulated requirements for sending out bulk commercial messages by March 31, 2021, "to avoid any disruption in the communication with customers" from April 1, 2021.

Trai in a statement on Thursday said reports from telecom operators indicated that "no major issues have come to notice leaving few cases" and that "messages which are in accordance with the regulations are getting delivered successfully".

Sources in Trai said that no major disruptions were reported across key sectors like banking, healthcare and government services.

Successful delivery rates of bulk messages were hovering at an average of 83-86 per cent. Limited cases of SMS rejection "here and there" could have been with regard to telemarketing messages, which may not have adhered to the norms including do-not-disturb, the Trai sources said. But, they added that the regulator is in the process of examining all available information in this regard.

The Trai statement said telecom service providers have been instructed to make special efforts to identify the cause of SMS rejection, if there is any rejection from some principal entities, telemarketers and aggregators.

"We request regulatory bodies, central and state departments, industry bodies to impress upon organisations under their control to implement these regulations effectively in consumer interest," the Trai statement added.

Reached for comments by PTI, many e-commerce and payment companies said they did not receive any consumer complaints on bulk messages.

Most of the major banks did not face any problem complying to Trai's guidelines on bulk messaging.

There was hardly any disruption reported by customers on the OTP generation front, a senior official of a private sector bank said.

However, customers of the country's largest lender SBI faced problem in accessing digital banking platform as the bank undertook maintenance activities on Thursday.

During 2:10 to 5:40 pm, INB/YONO/YONO Lite and UPI were unavailable, SBI said in a tweet.

Trai had, over the last fortnight, written to key ministries, associations like COAI and Nasscom and nodal agencies like NIC in a massive information outreach, as it pulled out all stops to ensure smooth implementation of new regulations on bulk messages post March 31.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's new regulatory requirement for commercial messages, based on blockchain technology, aims to curb unsolicited and fraudulent messages.

The norms require bonafide entities sending commercial text messages to register message headers and templates with telecom operators.

The SMSes and OTPs, when sent by user entities (banks, payment companies and others), are checked against the templates registered on the blockchain platform -- a process called SMS scrubbing.

The allotment of header, registration of template, and various others checks and balances allows the verification of identity and purpose of communication by genuine entities.

However, last month, transactions, including banking, credit card payment and certain other services that involve SMSes and OTP generation, had faced a major outage when telcos implemented the Trai norms (content scrubbing process) without the balancing measures in place by principal entities (which send out bonafide bulk, commercial messages).

Following the disruption, Trai had given a temporary breather to such companies, but had insisted that they take immediate measures to comply with the norms.

The telecom regulator, recently, released a list of 40 "defaulter" principal entities, that were not fulfilling its regulatory requirements on bulk commercial messages despite repeated reminders, and had urged companies to fall in line, immediately.

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