The implementation of new regulations for commercial texts by telecommunication companies led to massive disruption in SMS services on March 8 affecting OTP delivery for a host of services such as bank transactions, credit card payments, railway ticket bookings and even Co-WIN vaccine registrations, according to a Economic Times report. The report stated that nearly around 40 percent of the nearly one billion daily average commercial SMS’s failed to deliver. Top private and public sector banks witnessed a failure rate of about 25 percent until the evening of March 8, 2021.
The blame was shifted on the telecommunication companies for faulty implementing the new regulations which include the onus on telecom companies to verify each SMS content sent with the registered text before its delivery. Telecom companies pushed back and pinned the blame on companies and their lax adoption, which have failed to comply with regulatory standards. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) drafted regulations to check the pesky calls and messages sent to customers in a bid to crackdown on financial frauds and erring telemarketers.
The implementation of these regulations came into effect from 12 am on March 8, 2021, when the big telcos started blocking commercial SMS’s originating from unregistered headers or whose content did not match filed templates to control spam messages. However, this led to disruptions in services including Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Aadhaar enabled Payments (AePS), net banking and credit card payments due to lack of registration of sender ID and content, according to at least five banking and payments industry sources, the report said. According to the report, the Indian Banks Association also reached out to TRAI and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking an immediate postponement of the regulation.
An official at TRAI told the publication that constant reminders were sent to banks regarding the impending deadline for the past 15 days. “We haven’t received any official complaint about any disruption,” the official added. Meanwhile, SP Kochhar, Director General of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), an association representing telecom service providers with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, and Reliance Jio as its core members, defended his position saying that the Telecom Service Providers had sent various communications to the principal entities (on whose behalf messages are sent) to register their content template with the telcos before March 7.