SMS Scrubbing And Its Linkage To OTP Delivery Failure

SMS Scrubbing

What is SMS Scrubbing?

“SMS Scrubbing refers to matching SMS content with a pre-registered template submitted by every principal entity that sends commercial SMS to its customers. If the content doesn’t match with the pre-registered template, then the telcos block the message.”

You may experience issues in receiving One Time Password (OTP) from April 1 2021 as TRAI adopts severe measures to curb “Unsolicited Commercial Communications”. Several banks, insurance companies, other lenders, e-commerce companies are on the list of defaulters issued by TRAI. 

Despite warnings from telcos and TRAI, most principal entities or agencies that send commercial SMSes had not registered themselves, following which their messages were not getting delivered.  It shows that implementing SMS scrubbing caused close to 400 million messages to  ‘fail’ on day one.

SMS scrubbing has affected the whole financial ecosystem. Its impact may be seen in delaying or failure in OTP deliveries. It may occur in any online activity such as ordering food, making bank transactions, online shopping, etc. SMS scrubbing effects may vary from user to user. Some may face no delay in OTPs delivery while others may receive incomplete text.

The new order of TRAI

SMS Scrubbing

As the new order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), it obliges telecom service providers to register their messaging templates. The stipulated period was seven days. Within the duration, telecom providers need to inform the respective principal entities to register their templates, headers, content, and subscriber preference. The rule is not limited to SMSes only, but also voice communication. All unregistered commercial senders will be banned from sending SMSes by the new technology.

“A blockchain method is used to verify the content of every SMS and every unregistered SMS is blocked.”

Before this new set of rules was implemented, in 2018 July, released a framework under which telecom companies could adopt distributed ledger technology or blockchain to verify the sender information and content of each commercial SMS before it is delivered to the user’s device. On this, TRAI chairman R S Sharma said, “blockchain will ensure two things— non-repudiation and confidentiality. It was executed mainly to effectively control the rate of spam and thus restricted unregistered entities from sending commercial messages. It may also ensure registered firms from sending fraudulent messages to customers.

As a result, daily services such as net banking, credit card payments, aadhar authentication, or even Co-WIN registration were disrupted for SMS scrubbing. The failure rate was over 25% among the leading private and public-sector banks.

This OTP failure occurs mainly for implementing the new set of regulations for commercial text messages, voice communications, according to a report in Economic Times. Officials at payment companies, banks, and among others, telecom companies are denounced for not properly executing new systems (Distributed Ledger Technology, DLT) of checking spam messages. 

Later, after the scrubbing took place, a high-level meeting occurred between authority and over 50+ telemarketing firms across the country. The meeting was on the hurdles faced by the business entities for adopting the complex blockchain-based SMS filtering system.

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