In March of 2021, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had issued a statement wherein they had extended the deadline for the processing of recurring online transactions. From the aforementioned date, the RBI had extended the deadline for the implementation by six months. This means that by the end of September 2021, that extension comes to a close and the new rule will be in effect from the month of October onwards. The RBI had essentially introduced this new rule in an attempt to bring in more safety and security to the recurring, monthly transactional process through the use of Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA). This would encompass transactions made via debit cards, credit cards, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) or other prepaid payment instruments (PPIs).
These recurring payments are usually automated for the payments of utility bills, mobile subscription plans, as well as streaming platforms. One of the most affected aspects of this auto-payment system will be the monthly transactions for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar and so on.
Speaking about the necessity of this move, the RBI said, “The requirement of Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) has made digital payments in India safe and secure. In the interest of customer convenience and safety in use of recurring online payments, the framework mandated use of AFA during registration and first transaction (with relaxation for subsequent transactions up to a limit of ₹2,000, since enhanced to ₹5,000), as well as pre-transaction notification, facility to withdraw the mandate, etc.
“The primary objective of the framework was to protect customers from fraudulent transactions and enhance customer convenience," said the RBI.
As per the new rules, the banks will have to inform their customers about the recurring payments at least 24 hours ahead of the debit to the card. This notification will likely be sent via SMS or email. It should be noted that all the extra steps in authentication and verification are only mandatory for the first time. After that, subsequent payments can avoid the long process. The limit for auto-debiting from the customer’s card will be set to Rs 5,000. If you wish to make a transaction that crosses that limit you will have to use a one-time password (OTP) to verify it.
If for any reason you want to discontinue the recurring payment, you can opt-out at any time with no charges levied against you. The issuer, i.e., your bank has to provide you with an online facility to withdraw any e-mandate at any point.
In a release, the RBI said, “Based on a request from Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) for an extension of time till March 31, 2021, to enable the banks to complete the migration, Reserve Bank had advised the stakeholders in December 2020 to migrate to the framework by March 31, 2021. Thus, adequate time was given to the stakeholders to comply with the framework.”
However, after much delay, the RBI decided to extend the deadline again as it was not being implemented as planned. “…The framework has not been fully implemented even after the extended timeline. This non-compliance is noted with serious concern and will be dealt with separately. The delay in implementation by some stakeholders has given rise to a situation of possible large-scale customer inconvenience and default. To prevent any inconvenience to the customers, Reserve Bank has decided to extend the timeline for the stakeholders to migrate to the framework by six months, i.e., till September 30, 2021.”
The regulator mentioned that failing to implement it or any further delay beyond the given deadline will attract strong supervisory action. “Any further delay in ensuring complete adherence to the framework beyond the extended timeline will attract stringent supervisory action. A circular advising the above is being issued by the Reserve Bank today,” said the RBI.