Temporary Suspension of the SMS Regulations by TRAI-Know About it!

blockchain Mar 12, 2021

Are you among those telecom customers who are not able to receive OTP? Worry not, below is the reason why it is happening and for how long. Here is a story of where it all started.

Many companies and e-commerce customers are facing issues in receiving OTPs through text messages. It is due to the massive breakdown of message services. In conversation with some of our Fintech based clients, we got to know the same issues, about the delay in receiving 2 step authentication OTP and transactional OTP for end customers. It has become a major glitch in the services.

“SPAM” this word already creates an irritating vibe, but it becomes more frustrating when we receive spam messages often. This is where the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) took the first step about a decade ago by putting forward a “Do Not Disturb” registry to relieve its customers.

According to this, all telemarketers were expected to register with TRAI and check the DND registry to keep a check on sending bulk messages and phone calls to the customers. If any telecom service keeps doing the same, they can be reported by the customers, after which the TRAI can charge a penalty and disconnect their phone lines.

However, the penalties were charged only on telemarketers, and network providers like Airtel, Vodafone had no role in this. But as always this could not be executed properly and telemarketers continued sending those bulk messages. They did not fear getting caught as they could switch their connections if anything happened.

How did TRAI overcome this challenge?

This challenged TRAI by changing the rules and they decided to come up with distributed ledger technology (DLT). This is where Blockchain technology is used. According to it, the information regarding customer preferences is saved on a big centralised network. Using cryptography, the information is stored in a secure way. And telecom service providers will have access to this information.

After this, telemarketers have to register with “telco” which approves the content of your messages and the number of customers you wish to reach. The telco then “scrub” this data and checks it with customers’ preferences. The message is then sent to only those who show interest in the related content except those who wish to stay “undisturbed”.

The DLT keeps a closer eye on the sender ID and the content of every commercial SMS from a registered source. Messages from unregistered senders get expunged automatically. The scenario becomes smoother as now the penalty will not only be charged on telemarketers but network providers also.

As per the words written in the BloombergQuint article after the deployment of DLT technology:

“A new piece of technology meant to scrub text messages caused severe problems for digital payments on Monday, with banks and financial technology firms reporting transaction failures due to delays in receiving one-time passwords. Even as banks and digital payments companies are trying to circumvent issues in the delivery of time-critical OTPs to approve transactions, customers and services dependent on OTPs have complained about delayed responses and failed payments.”

This technology was deployed this Monday, but the problem faced was that it was scrubbing data that it should not. So, the regulators suspended the implementation till the time stakeholders find a way to solve these issues.

Problems due to DLG:

The implementation of this technology could not meet the expectations of TRAI as it made it difficult for people to receive one-time-passwords over SMS messages. Not just missed messages, but it also hindered the processes including debit card transactions, CoWIN registration, two-factor authentication, and online account logins. According to sources, there is an almost 50% hike in missed OTP messages and transactions.

Is suspension temporary or permanent?

According to sources, OTP APIs are about to get working again. So, you can take a sigh of relief if any of your transactions are pending. Most of the OTP systems which were affected are now resolved and soon others will also get back to normal.

You can rest without worry as the suspension is not permanent and just a temporary approach to solving the problem people are facing, although people will still have to submit the templates of their messages.

After encountering the outrage of people for not getting their OTPs over SMS messages delaying their official work, TRAI has informed people that it is just a 7-day temporary suspension of the SMS scrubbing which was deployed on Monday. So have patience, you will get your OTP issues resolved soon.

In-trend technologies such as blockchain, AI and IoT have a great potential to revolutionize the way we work.

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