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India utilizes blockchain to curb spam calls and messages

India is increasingly relying on distributed ledger technology (DLT) to improve operations in diverse sectors, and the latest deployment of the technology is in telecommunications.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced that it is using DLT to crack down on the activities of bad actors in the industry. One key problem the telecommunications regulator is tackling is Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC), an issue affecting millions of mobile phone users.

According to TRAI, users are faced with a barrage of messages from unregistered telemarketers, which could open the floodgates for fraud. To combat the issue, the regulator unveiled several strategies, including using distributed ledgers and collaboration with other regulators.

“Now complaints are reported against unregistered telemarketers (UTMs), where a surge has been seen in pushing various kinds of UCC SMSs,” read TRAI’s statement. “Additionally, UCC calls are also one of the concerns which need to be dealt with equally along with UCC SMSes.”

The use of DLT has been hailed as one that will ensure transparency in the dealings of telemarketers and that only registered operators on the distributed ledgers can send messages to customers. TRAI has been exploring DLT use in curtailing the menace of spam calls and messages since 2018 with the creation of the Telecom Commercial Customer Preference Regulations 2018.

Since the creation of the framework, several operators have registered on the platform after the approval of their message templates. TRAI notes that the move has significantly reduced the number of customers’ complaints of unsolicited texts from operators by an impressive 60%.

 “TRAI also runs various campaigns to educate consumers, make them aware of provisions and safeguards in the regulations, and alert them to such fraudulent messages,” read the statement.

All hands on deck

TRAI also disclosed that it would be forming a joint committee of regulators (JSOR) made up of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities & Exchanges Board of India (SEBI), and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MoCA). The purpose of the body will be to collaborate on a general policy direction to stamp out incidences of financial fraud in India’s telecommunications industry.

Turning to DLT is a pointer toward the increasing reliance on Web 3 processes, having previously announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that it is eyeing a 46% adoption rate. Civil society organizations are also striking partnerships with institutions of learning to offer courses to Indians to deepen the local talent pool.

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