scorecardOTP delays should end as TRAI suspends its blockchain experiment for seven days
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OTP delays should end as TRAI suspends its blockchain experiment for seven days

OTP delays should end as TRAI suspends its blockchain experiment for seven days
Tech3 min read
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suspended its blockchain technology aimed at filtering out spam messages for the next seven days.
  • This comes after users across the country saw long delays in receiving their one-time-passwords (OTPs) for online transactions.
  • Since the upgrade was implemented yesterday, users report not receiving OTPs from legitimate sources like their banks, digital payments apps and even government entities like Aadhaar authentication.
One-time-passwords (OTPs) aren’t just for financial transactions. They are central for logging into email accounts, authenticating new memberships, or just signing into Amazon on a new device.

Understandably, when smartphone users in India saw that OTPs weren’t coming in anymore, they were upset. However, in a splash of good news — albeit temporary — the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) is calling off its blockchain experiment under the unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) framework.

“We are concerned about any customer inconvenience cases and have ordered a seven-day temporary suspension of the SMS scrubbing that was activated on Monday,” a senior TRAI official told the Economic Times.

The technical glitch was just a pain for private players — like Axis Bank, Paytm, Goibibo and others — but also for government entities like the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the State Bank of India (SBI) and Aadhar Authentication, who saw their messages getting blocked out.

“We are unable to reach the authentication service to serve you OTP. Please try again,” it said on the Aadhar service’s official website.

Why aren’t OTPs coming through?
This whole drama is unfolding because the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) started to implement the second phase of the SMS regulations on March 8. The transition has been less than smooth to say the least, with companies may not have registered in time getting locked out.

The government’s new process is designed to curb spam and fraud messages. Using a blockchain-based solution, telecom operators can now verify commercial messages and their source using a template for such communication.

Unregistered messages, which do not follow the template, will be blocked as potential fraud. And, that’s what’s happening to your OTPs.

Telecom operators are defending the digital ledger system and pointing the finger at companies who failed to register in time. According to them, the onus lies on telemarketers and individual businesses to comply with the standards.

Safer or temporarily more at risk than usual
Content scrubbing is a good move to keep spam at bay. But, what’s not good is when a pesky filter keeps useful messages from coming through as well. In fact, such a move could put users more at risk.

“Close to 50% traffic is getting dropped because of content scrubbing. Officials from India’s top banks including HDFC and SBI are extremely furious and dialling TRAI to address the mess at the earliest,” a top executive at a leading telemarketing firm told The Economic Times.

Without messages coming through from your bank, not only do your own transactions hit a wall but there’s no alert if someone else is trying to make a transaction from your account. This increases the chances of cyber fraud.