Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch two innovative, customer-centric initiatives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the retail direct scheme and the integrated ombudsman scheme, on Friday with a view to easing access to government securities market for retail investors.
These schemes, to be launched by the prime minister through video-conferencing, are aimed at deepening the debt market and improve customer grievance redressal mechanism.
In a statement on Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the RBI Retail Direct Scheme is aimed at enhancing access to the government securities market for retail investors. It offers them a new avenue for directly investing in the securities issued by the Centre and the state governments. The investors will be able to easily open and maintain their government securities accounts online with the RBI for free, it added.
Leveraging technological advancements, the scheme offers a portal avenue to invest in central government securities, Treasury Bills, State Development Loans and Sovereign Gold Bonds.
The scheme places India in a list of select few countries offering such a facility. As regards, the Reserve Bank-Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS), the statement said, it is aimed at further improving the grievance redress mechanism for resolving customer complaints against entities regulated by the central bank.
The PMO said the central theme of the scheme is based on “One Nation-One Ombudsman” with one portal, one e-mail address and one postal address for the customers to lodge their complaints.
The RBI after review decided to integrate the three Ombudsman Schemes into one and also simplified the scheme by covering all complaints involving deficiency in service by centralising the receipt and initial processing of complaints to enhance process efficiency.
RBI’s alternate grievance redress mechanism currently comprises of three Ombudsman schemes viz the Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BOS), launched in 1995, the Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (OS-NBFC), 2018 and the Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions (OSDT), 2019.
The schemes are administered through 22 offices of RBI Ombudsman (ORBIOs). Complaints that do not fall within the ambit of the Ombudsman mechanism are handled by the Consumer Education and Protection Cells (CEPCs) functioning at 30 regional offices of RBI.
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.
There will be a single point of reference for the customers to file their complaints, submit documents, track the status of their complaints and provide feedback, it said, adding, a multi-lingual toll-free phone number will provide all the relevant information on grievance redress and assistance for filing complaints.
This Scheme (RB-IOS) will do away with the jurisdictional limitations as well as limited grounds for complaints. RBI will provide a single reference point for the customers to submit documents, track status of complaints filed and provide feedback.
The complaints that are not covered under the ombudsman scheme will continued to be attended to by the Customer Education and Protection Cells (CEPCs) which are located in the 30 regional offices of RBI.
With increased awareness, digital penetration and financial inclusion there were steep rise in the number of complaints against various regulated entities. The number of complaints shot up from 1.64 lakh in 2017-18 to 3.30 lakh complaints in 2019-20, as per RBI data.
The RBI in the recent past took several steps to strengthen the customer grievance redressal system of regulated entities including issuance of guidelines for strengthening of Internal Ombudsmen, graded regulatory and supervisory actions, and launch of Complaints Management System (CMS) in 2019.