Urgent missive: Trai moves to curb pesky messages

By: |
March 18, 2021 4:50 AM

During the last couple of years, Trai has repeatedly asked all stakeholders to follow the rules and various communications had been sent. On March 8, the telecom industry decide to start blocking all commercial messages, which were not sent in the prescribed format.

Trai is understood to have written to Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, IRDAI and also the banking secretary.Trai is understood to have written to Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, IRDAI and also the banking secretary.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has reached out to financial regulators asking them to nudge players, under their jurisdiction, to comply with the system set up to check pesky messaging. Around 30% of the commercial messages from banks and 50% from other financial intermediaries fail to work under the new blockchain-based mechanism put in place to check pesky SMSes.

Trai is understood to have written to Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, IRDAI and also the banking secretary.

For the moment, Trai is allowing even those messages, which do not comply with the new rules, to go through. However, it has asked telecom operators to filter these non-compliant messages and report the entities that are not adhering to the new mechanism. The report will be sent to banks and telemarketers at the end of each day and the summary report to Trai every Tuesday and Friday.

Trai has initiated this exercise to prevent an outage of SMSes as had happened on March 8 when the new system was enforced. The day had seen around 400 million SMSes not being delivered, including OTPs from banks. Trai had subsequently given telcos a grace period of seven days to comply with the new rules which ended on March 16. Trai will review the status on March 23 and decide its next course of action.

The latest rules, based on blockchain technology, are aimed at curbing unsolicited or pesky and fraudulent messages. The new regulation provides for registration of senders, telemarketers, headers, content templates, consent templates, registration of fine-grained subscriber preference etc. A direction under the rules was issued to all telecom operators back in January 2020 to take due measures for onboarding of senders of messages called principal entities.

During the last couple of years, Trai has repeatedly asked all stakeholders to follow the rules and various communications had been sent. On March 8, the telecom industry decide to start blocking all commercial messages, which were not sent in the prescribed format.

The system of delivering commercial messages works is tiered. For instance, a principal entity like a bank hires the services of around 3-4 telemarketers to deliver the messages. Under the new rules, all the telemarketers need to follow a particular template and any variation in template, will lead to rejection of the message. For a telecom operator, it becomes very difficult to pinpoint which telemarketer has not complied simply by looking at the header of a message. The telecom operator, therefore informs the principal entity that its messages have failed. The onus lies on the banks or other such firms to ensure that telemarketers, whose services they are employing, are using the right format to send the messages.

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