With an aim to speed up grievances that customers may have with their banks, non-banking finance firms (NBFC) and even prepaid payment issuers (PPIs), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das said today, as part of the monetary policy announcement, that the RBI would soon integrate the three prevailing ombudsman schemes.
In simple words, it means that instead of going to three different places to lodge complaints for banking, NBFC and digital wallet related complaints, you will soon get a single window to register your complaint. A PPI is typically a mobile wallet. Some of the popular and large PPI issuers are Paytm, Mobikwik, Zeta India, PayU, PhonePe and Amazon Pay. This centralised mechanism will be called ‘One Nation One Ombudsman’ approach from June 2021. RBI governor Shaktikanta Das made the announcement as part of his monetary policy statement on Friday.
An ombudsman is a RBI-appointed and monitored complaint registering and resolving mechanism. Typically, customers approach ombudsman after they have lodged their complaints with their respective banks, NBFCs or digital wallets, but aren’t satisfied by their responses. An ombudsman is a second level of complaint mechanism.
“RBI’s intent of One Nation One Ombudsman can prove to be a game changer. With multiple interoperable payment systems which are growing, this move by RBI is a big step to bring more effectiveness and speed for addressing the customer grievances”, says Mandar Agashe, chairman and Managing Director, Sarvatra Technologies.
“The e-integrated ombudsman scheme is a welcome measure as it will considerably streamline the redressal process,” says Vivek Bansal, Group CFO, InCred.
How is One Nation One Ombudsman better than three existing ombudsman?
A single window also helps in times when banking services are getting more integrated. For instance, you what to transfer some money from your bank account to a mobile wallet and something goes wrong? Do you file a complaint against your mobile wallet or your bank? A common ombudsman window helps you lodge a single and common complaint.
At present ombudsman schemes for bank, NBFCs and digital transactions are in operation from 22 ombudsman offices of RBI located across the country. “So, sometimes the response to customer complaint is not quick and efficient because of the decentralized nature and way it’s managed at the backend,” says Kunal Varma, CBO and Co-Founder, MoneyTap.
Also, the RBI already has a website https://cms.rbi.org.in to raise a complaint but it gets directed to dedicated ombudsman offices as per issue selected by a customer. “If ombudsman selected on the website by a customer is not appropriate then resolution of grievances gets delayed and turnaround time is more,” says Varma. So simplification of the backend was necessary for the central bank to make a difference.
Helping RBI collect useful data
A central complaint collection and redressal agency also helps RBI keep better track of the complaint trends, across products and geographies. Varma says that for instance RBI can gather intelligence on which product gets more complaints, what sort of customers are more aggrieved, which geographies contribute to higher set of complaints and so on. All this provides a strong feedback to RBI for it to take corrective actions.
“Consumer protection is the need of the hour. In wake of certain challenges, they are often left with no options as they do not have the strength and resources to contest market forces. The vision of ‘One Nation, One Ombudsman’ can help us change the same,” says Bansal.As per experts, to set-up and implement One Nation One Ombudsman is going to be an operational challenge for the RBI. “The RBI has to integrate the services, databases of 22 different offices and make sure there is common centralize indexed system where all the information is flowing through one place and then they need to assigned to the right team for resolution,” says Varma.