State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, others yet to comply with scrubbing norms

Trai said the enforcement of its regulations was vital because the delivery of non-compliant messages allowed fraudulent miscreants to conveniently misuse the message delivery


sbi | HDFC Bank | TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Aut­hority of India (TRAI), upon analysing the scrubbing data, has found that as many as 80 entities, including State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, and Axis bank, were not complying with the regulator’s mandate.

Trai said lapses can be attributed to lack of “due care” and diligence by principal entities, telemarketers, and aggr­egators. In a note on Friday, the telecom regulator said: “It has been informed that principal entities, including major banks like State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, and Axis Bank, are not transmitting mandatory parameters like content template IDs, PE IDs, etc, even in those cases where content templates have been registered, while sending such messages to the TSP (telecom service provider) for delivery.”

Sufficient time had already been given to principal enti­ties/telemarketers, and other entities to comply with the regulatory framework, it said.

It appears, the regulator said, that a few entities were not only “indifferent” but also “not serious enough” in complying with the provisions of the regulations, thereby causing inconvenience to consumers. “This should not and cannot be allowed to continue.”

The regulator said the enforcement of its regulations was vital because the delivery of non-compliant messages allowed fraudulent miscreants to conveniently misuse the message delivery system for cheating and defrauding customers.

It said principal entities and telemarketers should fulfil the regulatory requirements bef­ore March 31, 2021, to avoid any disruption in the communication with customers from April 1. Regulatory bodies, such as RBI, Sebi, IRDAI, central and State government departments, and other autonomous bodies and other establishments have been asked to impress upon principal enti­ties under their jurisdiction to follow the regulatory requirement strictly.

The issue concerning pesky calls gathered steam a fortnight ago on March 9 when the telecom regulator suspended the newly-implemented norms for commercial text messages for one week, following major disruptions in SMSes and one-time password (OTP) deliveries for banking, payment, and other transactions.

On March 12, it gave three days to entities like banks, e-comme­rce firms, and oth­ers for complying with the rules, failing wh­ich they were to be barred from sending out commercial communication to customers.

It also allowed telecom operators to start the process of scrubbing and prepare a database of messages that do not comply with norms. The latest norms, based on blockchain technology, aim to curb unsolicited and fraudulent messages. The norms require bonafide entities sending com­m­ercial text messages to reg­ister message headers and templates with telecom operators. SMSes and OTPs, when sent by user entities (banks, payment companies), are checked aga­inst the templates registered on the block­chain platform — a process called SMS scrubbing.

Telecom operators had said that payment fir­ms and other entities did not do the needful, even as the no­rms came into effect.

The process was published by Trai under the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regula­tions (TCC­CPR), 2018, on July 19, 2018, and the regulations came into force on February 28, 2019. Those which did not comply with regulation were to be filtered out through scrubbing.

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