New Delhi:
The telecom regulator on Friday released a list of 40 "defaulter" principal entities, including large banks like HDFC Bank, SBI and ICICI Bank, that are not fulfilling the regulatory norms on bulk commercial messages despite repeated reminders.

Hardening its stance on the issue, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) warned that defaulting entities should comply with the stipulated requirements by March 31, 2021 "to avoid any disruption in the communication with customers" from April 1, 2021.

"As sufficient opportunity has been given to principal entities/ telemarketers to comply with the regulatory requirements and that the consumers cannot be deprived of the benefits of the regulatory provisions any further, therefore it has been decided that from April 1, 2021, any message failing in the scrubbing process due to non-compliance of regulatory requirements will be rejected" by the system, TRAI said in a statement.

TRAI's norms for commercial messages, based on blockchain technology, aim to curb unsolicited and fraudulent messages.

The norms require bonafide entities sending commercial text messages to register message header and templates with telecom operators. The SMSes and OTPs, when sent by user entities (banks, payment companies and others), are checked against the templates registered on the blockchain platform — a process called SMS scrubbing.

TRAI has analysed the scrubbing data and reports submitted by the telecom service providers and also held a meeting with telemarketers/ aggregators on March 25, 2021.

"It has been informed that Principal Entities including major banks like State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, Axis Bank etc are not transmitting mandatory parametres like content template IDs, PE IDs etc. even in those cases where content templates have been registered, while sending such messages to telecom service providers for delivery," TRAI said.

The regulator, on analysing the cases of failure of messages due to scrubbing, found that various principal entities and telemarketers are not fulfilling regulatory requirements.

In the absence of these necessary parameters, the messages are bound to be rejected by the system during the scrubbing process.

TRAI has released a list of 40 "defaulter" principal entities which includes large banks like Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, and big names like Reliance Retail Ltd, and Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd.

Others in the list include Life Insurance Corporation of India and National Stock Exchange of India Ltd.

Separately, TRAI has also issued a list of 40 "defaulter telemarketers".

"Sufficient time has already been given to the Principal Entities/ telemarketers and other entities to comply with the regulatory framework.

However, it appears that few entities are not only indifferent but also not serious enough in complying with the provisions of the regulations thereby causing inconvenience to customers," the TRAI statement said.

This "should not and cannot" be allowed to continue, it asserted.

Enforcement of TRAI regulations is vital as delivery of non compliant messages allows fraudulent miscreants to conveniently misuse the message delivery system for cheating and defrauding customers, it contended.

TRAI said entities involved in sending out bulk commercial messages should fulfil regulatory requirements.

It urged regulatory bodies like RBI, SEBI, IRDA, central and state government departments and other establishments to "impress upon Principal entities" under their jurisdiction to follow the regulatory requirements strictly.

Earlier this month, transactions, including banking, credit card payment and certain other services that involve SMSes and OTP generation, had faced an major outage when telcos implemented the TRAI norms for commercial messages, without the balancing measures in place by principal entities (entities that send out bonafide bulk, commercial messages).

Following the disruption, TRAI has given a temporary breather to such companies, but had insisted that they take immediate measures to comply with the norms.