If you are having trouble receiving OTP SMS in India, you are not alone [Update: UCC framework temporarily suspended]
If you have been facing issues getting an OTP (one-time-password) from your bank, eCommerce platform, or other services, then you are not alone. In India, there has been a nationwide disruption in the SMS service as industry sources suggest that the cause of this are the new SMS regulations called the Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC) regulations. These regulations have been enforced by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to control SMS fraud, but it appears to have also caused a number of problems in the process. What this essentially means is that you could face long delays to get an OTP while authenticating payments or even two-factor authentication to log into your accounts online.
While telecom operators have not issued any statements regarding the issue, a report from NDTV Gadgets suggests that a new DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) process is being deployed which has led to a delay in push notifications. DLT is consensually shared and synchronized across multiple sites, institutions, or geographies, accessible by multiple people, and is similar to a blockchain-based registration system. According to Corefactors, an engineered marketing and communications solutions company, TRAI has asked telemarketers to register themselves on the DLT platform. By doing so, TRAI is making an effort to reduce SMS spam that you get every day from various marketing firms.
According to The Economic Times, around 40% of traffic out of the billion average daily commercial SMS deliveries was disrupted till Monday evening. The failure rate among top private and public sector banks was over 25%. TRAI’s new regulations on unsolicited commercial communication were implemented on Monday, March 8, where it mandated that telcos verify every SMS content with a registered text before delivering it. The blockchain-based system checks the sender ID, called the header, and content of every commercial SMS originating from a registered source while SMSes from unregistered sender IDs are blocked.
The implementation of this new system reportedly has not gone smoothly, due to which a lot of people have been facing issues. I personally faced an issue in the morning while transferring money from my bank account as I was unable to get an OTP even after waiting for 30-minutes. Gadgets 360 additionally confirms that the issue is not specific to a certain telecom operator as both Vodafone and Airtel subscribers have been facing issues.
It is surprising to see that neither telecom operators nor financial institutions including banks have sent out a statement regarding the issue. We suggest that you should avoid using any service that involves receiving an OTP via SMS for authentication until further notice from TRAI, as far as feasible. But considering how widely preferred OTP SMS has become in the past few years, we doubt you can stay unaffected.
Update: UCC framework suspended by TRAI for a week
TRAI has suspended the implementation of the UCC framework for a week, in light of the extensive inconvenience faced by customers.
“We are concerned about any customer inconvenience caused and have ordered a 7-day temporary suspension of the SMS scrubbing which was activated on Monday,” a senior TRAI official told Economic Times. There’s no word on what happens after a week, but one can hopefully expect some more clarifications to follow.