CONSUMER EDUCATION AND PROTECTION

The Reserve Bank’s approach to customer service focusses on protection of customers’ rights, enhancing the quality of customer service, spreading awareness and strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism in banks and also in the Reserve Bank.

Overview

  • The Reserve Bank’s focussed initiatives in the field of consumer protection began with the setting up of Complaints Redressal Cell in 1995, launch of Banking Ombudsman Scheme in 1995-96, and creation of a full-fledged Customer Service Department in 2006, from the erstwhile Rural Planning and Credit Department, which was later rechristened as Consumer Education and Protection Department (CEPD) in 2014.
  • The Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BO Scheme) was launched as an Alternative Grievance Redress (AGR) mechanism with a view, inter-alia, to bring the redress of customer grievances against REs, which hitherto was with the respective regulatory and supervisory departments, under one platform. Initially, retired judges/ bureaucrats/ senior bank officials were appointed as Banking Ombudsmen (BOs) and the scheme was funded by the banks, with manpower drawn from State Level Bankers’ Committee’s convener banks and RBI. The scheme was amended in 2006 when RBI took over the staffing, funding, and appointment of the Ombudsmen to bring, inter-alia, increased accountability and lower pendency. Over the years, many changes were brought in the BO Scheme including the appeal mechanism and higher monetary limit for compensation. The BO Scheme had specified grounds of complaints (31) and the BOs who operated from 22 different offices had specified and mutually exclusive jurisdiction.
  • With a view to extend AGR to the customers of the Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) due to their growing significance in the financial system, the Ombudsman Scheme for the NBFCs was launched in 2018 and was operated from four metro centres with each covering the respective zone. With the emergence of Non-Bank Payment System Participants (NBPSPs) and their rising share in the digital transactions, the Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions (OSDT) launched in 2019 with the BOs acting as Ombudsmen under the OSDT scheme.
  • The three schemes, having evolved over different periods of time, had specified grounds of complaints which acted as a limiting factor, had different grounds of complaints, which led to uneven redress across the customers of different entities, and had different compensation structures. As such, a need was felt to integrate the three Ombudsman Schemes into one, simplify the scheme by covering all complaints involving deficiency in service, and centralise the receipt and initial processing of complaints to impart process efficiency. Delegation was also introduced, and a post of Deputy Ombudsman was also created in each Ombudsman Office to ensure expeditious redress of certain categories of complaints. The exclusive jurisdiction of each Ombudsman Office was also done away with under the concept of ‘One Nation - One Ombudsman’. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank – Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS) was launched on November 12, 2021 by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

RBI Initiatives for Consumer Protection

Way Forward


The Charter of Customer Rights outlines overarching principles of customer rights based on global best practices. The five rights for bank customers according to this Charter are:

  • Right to Fair Treatment
  • Right to Transparency, Fair and Honest Dealing
  • Right to Suitability
  • Right to Privacy
  • Right to Grievances Redress and Compensation
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