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OTPs, SMSes Will Be Blocked From April 1 If Rules Broken; Digital Payments Will Suffer?

Beginning April 12, operators have been directed by TRAI to re-activate SMS checking filters and block traffic that fails to comply with regulatory standards. However such a move, according to the telemarketers would again lead to large-scale disruption of services such as financial and ecommerce.

TRAI in a letter to telecom companies and all telemarketing firms said that consumers can no longer be deprived of the benefits of the regulatory provisions, especially after giving sufficient opportunity to the principal entities to comply with the regulatory requirements.

It added that any message failing in the scrubbing due to non-compliance of regulatory requirements will be rejected post 1st April 2021.

What is Scrubbing?
Every SMS content is matched with a pre-registered template submitted by every principal entity who sends commercial SMS to its customers. If the content is not matched with the pre-registered template, the message is blocked by the telcos.

There are hurdles faced by business entities to onboard the complex blockchain-based SMS filtering system and in order to discuss the same a high level meeting was called by TRAI with telecom operators and over 50 telemarketing firms across the country.
Disruption will be caused in critical services such as OTPs etc. as the scrubbing will begin after 23 days of delay since March 8. On the day one, almost 400 million messages were dropped. TRAI had to then intervene by by ordering temporary suspension of scrubbing and allowing the businesses to have more time to test their procedures.

TRAI while addressing to the principal entities said that based on scrubbing and information provided by TSPs, due to various reasons such as invalid template ID, template not registered etc some of the SMS traffic was not found to be in compliance to the regulatory requirements and hence these entities are yet to fulfill the regulatory requirements.

However, several telemarketers believe scrubbing will again create a situation like the one which erupted on March 8.

Compliance Is Not A Easy Task : Telemarketers
Nitish Gopalani, founder, Shivtel Communications said that on March 8 a failure rate of close to 80% was witnessed, which is a big blow for company as well as clients. He added that there are close to 1 lakh templates which flow into the system every day and it is not a one-time compliance task. Hence the company has moved to the the Delhi High Court this month seeking a stay on these norms by TRAI.

Aniketh Jain, chief revenue officer of Kaleyra said that the company is readying itself for another round of SMS drops as ensuring 100% compliance for 1 billion SMSes per day across India is a next to impossible task. Such strict norms by TRAI, according to some of the industry executives may weed away commercial SMS traffic to OTT platforms like Whatsapp, a foreign entity that functions outside the purview of any regulator in India.

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