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New TRAI SMS Rules Result In Disruption Of OTP, Aadhaar Authentication Services

OTP AADHAAR Authentication

To improve end-user experience and eliminate spam and fraudulent commercial communication, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) implemented its template registration and scrubbing regulations. However, due to inadequate preparations by telecom companies as well as service providers, this has hit the financial customers hard. Many financial consumers are finding it difficult to receive SMS, especially the one-time passcode (OTP) for transactions.

Media reports say the new regulations have affected receiving OTPs for bank transactions, CoWin registrations, and Aadhaar updates, among other things.

A report, says out of one billion average daily commercial SMS deliveries, around 40% traffic was disrupted till Monday evening and among top private and public sector banks, the failure rate was over 25%. Even BSE STAR MF cautioned its members about issues in receiving SMS and advised them to use alternate methods like email to receive the OTP for authentication.

As per the revised guidelines, entities that want to communicate through SMS with their customers will now have to register themselves with telecom operators. As per the guidelines, these entities and bulk SMS service providers will be accountable to telcos, who will be directly accountable to TRAI. The system will be governed through distributed ledger technology (DLT) or blockchain and all the entities listed on this platform will be interlinked with each other.

The regulations by TRAI mandate registration of transaction and service-related OTP templates. Every content template that is being registered by a principal entity (telco) is required to contain a ‘brand name’ or complete business name, brand name and trademark in the content field. Any entity which does not have registration and sender ID approved by telcos, will find that its SMSes are not being processed and would fail to deliver to the intended recipient. 

From 8 March 2021, this process, known as template registration and scrubbing, has gone live. However, it resulted in customers not receiving OTPs. 

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According to the ET report, both telcos and financial service providers like banks are blaming each other for the mess. While banks are holding hasty implementation responsible for this, telcos say service providers failed to register sender ID and template required for the distributed ledger technology (DLT) scrubbing platform. 

“The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) earlier in the day reached out to both the TRAI and Reserve Bank of India (RBI), seeking an immediate postponement of the regulation. But an official at the telecom regulatory body said constant reminders were sent to banks regarding the impending deadline for the past 15 days,” the report says. 

Under the new regulations, SMSes are categorised in three activities, transactional, promotional and service, including implicit and explicit. Transactional category is reserved for banks for sending OTPs. Service related informative messages will fall under the implicit category. If a customer has opted to receive promotional SMS from a particular entity then it will be come under the explicit category. General promotional SMS including offers, discounts will be delivered only to subscribers who have not opted for do-not-disturb (DND) or do-not-call (DNC). 

Earlier, in September 2020, the Delhi High Court had asked the telecom regulator to act in accordance with the law against unregistered entities and against those persons not complying with its regulations, to curb the problem of UCCs.

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