TRAI Suspends Norms For Commercial SMS For One Week
People use mobile phones. (Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg)

TRAI Suspends Norms For Commercial SMS For One Week

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday suspended the newly-implemented norms for commercial text messages for one week, following disruptions in SMS and OTP deliveries for banking, payment, and other transactions.

The norms with respect to content template for text messages came into effect on Monday.

The move to suspend the norms would enable the principal entities to register the template of SMS so that no inconvenience is faced by the customers, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in a statement.

"In order to protect the interest of consumers, it has been decided that scrubbing of SMS by telecom service providers shall be suspended temporarily for seven days...," it said.

According to the regulator, telecom operators are being asked to inform their principal entities to take immediate necessary action in this regard and facilitate their registration including SMS template in a time-bound manner.

The temporary suspension comes after transactions, including banking, credit card payment and certain other services that involve SMSs and OTP generation, faced an outage on Monday. The disruption happened after telcos implemented the TRAI norms for commercial messages.

The latest norms, based on blockchain technology, aim to curb unsolicited and fraudulent messages.

The norms require bonafide enities sending commercial text messages to register message header and templates, with telecom operators. The SMS 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.

Also read: Digital Payments Face Hiccup As SMS Scrubbing Delays OTP Deliveries

On Monday, banking and telecom companies traded charges over the SMS, OTP disruptions. Telcos have maintained that the payment companies and others entities did not do the needful even as the norms came into effect.

"It has been observed that some of the principal entities have not fulfilled the requirements as envisaged in Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 (TCCCPR, 2018). As a result, their SMS were getting dropped after implementation of the scrubbing of SMS by telecom service providers," TRAI said.

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