Indian Regulator Reviews Telemarketing Blockchain

Since 2010, Indian phone users have been able to sign-up to a national ‘do not disturb’ (DND) registry implemented by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), but this has been insufficient to reduce the plague of unwanted telemarketing calls. Now TRAI is currently reviewing the success of the world’s first ever blockchain-powered marketing call register, which recently became mandatory for Indian telcos. TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma told the Press Trust of India that telcos were in the process of switching to the blockchain register, saying TRAI…

…will review… the progress of each entity, but the last I reviewed – I was informed that everybody is ready or in the final stages of operationalising it.

Sharma promised that the benefits of the new register would be apparent to consumers within a month. Overseas regulators are also likely to be interested in the results.

The blockchain technology is soon going to be operational in controlling the unsolicited communications. This will be be the first instance of implementation of the blockchain technology in this area globally, and we are looking forward to the results.

Indian consumers receive approximately 30 billion unwanted telemarketing messages each month, despite the DND registry amassing over 210 million subscribers since its inception. The use of blockchain to address the problem dates back to May 2018, when TRAI wrote new Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, which included changes to the unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) system.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology. Indian operators will use their new blockchain ledger to ensure only authorized telemarketers can make calls and send messages to users. These calls and messages will only be received by users who agreed to receive them.  The ledger also captures the customer’s preferences for the days of the week, times of day, and methods of communication they have allowed.

A Global Problem

India is not the only country striving to address a rising tide of complaints about nuisance calls. US consumers receive over 5 billion ‘robocalls’ each month, prompting the adoption of SHAKEN/STIR to reduce caller ID spoofing. Meanwhile, an alarmist report claims there has been a 325 percent rise in robocalls since 2018.

Around the Block(chain)

There are various ways blockchain can be used to tackle unwanted phone calls. Attendees of the recent Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) conferences in Bonn and Toronto learned about the new RAG Wangiri Blockchain Ledger. This ledger is the result of a partnership between RAG and Orillion, a start-up backed by Tony Sani, a former MTN Group executive and a member of RAG’s Steering Committee. The wangiri blockchain ledger will allow communications providers to share known wangiri numbers globally.

Indian Leadership

The adoption of blockchain by TRAI and Indian telcos illustrates why the global professional community needs to keep an open mind about who will pioneer the most effective telecoms risk management solutions of tomorrow. Commsrisk Editor Eric Priezkalns has spoken at length about the reasons why Asian telcos should leap ahead with risk management. RAG will tap into the dynamism of risk managers in the region by holding its first Indian conference in New Delhi on the 5th and 6th of February 2020.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
Rob is the Chief Operating Officer of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG). He is responsible for the planning and execution of each RAG event. Rob's goal is to bring together professionals from across the industry and drive RAG's agenda forward.

Rob started working for RAG full time in 2018, having served as Chair on a voluntary basis for the previous four years.

Before joining RAG, Rob was a senior consultant at Cartesian. He has worked in revenue assurance and billing roles for TalkTalk, Verizon Business, Energis and Hutchinson 3G.