RBI wants banks to charge for SMS alerts on usage

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today asked banks to charge customers for SMS alerts on transactions on the basis of usage, instead of imposing a fixed fee, to ensure equity and be reasonable.

''With a view to ensuring reasonableness and equity in the charges levied by banks for sending SMS alerts to customers, banks are advised to leverage the technology available with them and the telecom service providers to ensure that such charges are levied on all customers on actual usage basis'', RBI said in its second quarter monetary policy announcement.

In March 2011,RBI had prescribed guidelines for banks to send online alerts to customers for all types of transactions, irrespective of the amount. However, it had not issued rules on charging customers for these alerts.

Earlier this year, State Bank of India imposed an annual charge of Rs60 for SMS alerts, which was followed by other lenders.

RBI has, meanwhile, constituted a technical committee headed by B Sambamurthy to examine various options / alternatives, including the feasibility of encrypted SMS-based funds transfer using an application, which can run on any type of handset, for expansion of mobile banking in the country.

The committee is expected to submit its report by end-December 2013.

An advisory group, headed by Umesh Bellur, is also looking into the implementation of an electronic bill payment system based on a GIRO (general interbank recurring order) model for payment of dues of essential services, insurance premia, utility payments, taxes, university fees, examination fees and the like, RBI said.