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Reserve Bank of India – Integrated Ombudsman Scheme

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Introduction:

Ombudsman is person who deals with complaints made by ordinary people against organization independently. It is mechanism to have fair business practices to every user with no biases for any reason. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) being regulator of financial market and overall Banking and Financial Service Industry of India, offers Ombudsman Scheme to provide facility of compliant place and resolve accordingly.

The new Reserve Bank – Integrated Ombudsman Scheme, 2021 (the Scheme) is recently launched, to be precise its November 12, 2021, in virtual mode by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. 

Scope:

The recently launched Ombudsman Scheme integrates the existing three ombudsman schemes of RBI namely

Therefore, it can be said, it’s not new or substantially different Ombudsman Scheme to be panicked for, in fact its consolidation of the existing Ombudsman Scheme with an aim of “One Nation One Ombudsman” approach. Unlike earlier, entity-centric Ombudsman Scheme has now become Industry Centric consolidated Ombudsman Scheme to manage the true, fair and transparent business transaction with ultimate and efficient and effective service to end-users.

One major point is inclusion of a Non-scheduled primary co-operative Bank with Deposit size of INR 50 Crore and above under this integrated/consolidated scheme of the Ombudsman.

Salient Features:

The important features of consolidation of all available ombudsman scheme are: -

  • It will be no longer be necessary for a complaint to identify under which scheme he/she should file complaint with ombudsman.
  • Most importantly “deficiency in service” is defined under the scheme. 
  • The scheme has done away with the jurisdiction of each ombudsman scheme.
  • Centralized receipt and Processing centre have been set up at RBI, Chandigarh for receipt and initial processing of physical and email complaints in any language.
  • The responsibility of representing the regulated entity and furnishing information in respect of complaints filed by customer against the regulated entities would be that of the Principal Nodal Officer.
  • The regulated entity will not have right to appeal in cases when the Award is issued by the Ombudsman against if for not furnishing satisfactory and timely information/documents.
  • The Executive Director-in charge of Customer Education and Protection Department of RBI would be Appellate Authority under the Scheme.

Earlier most of the ombudsmen avoid or don’t take on consideration as the same is not under the scope of the Ombudsman however this integration scheme has defined the “Deficiency in Service” in order to increase the acceptability of complaints from users by the Ombudsman.

Here Deficiency in Service means a shortcoming or an inadequacy in any financial service, which the regulated entity is required to provide statutorily or otherwise, which may or may not result in financial loss or damage to the customer.

Decoding the Scheme:

The right of appointment of Ombudsman is with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with tenure not exceeding 3 years at a time. And the number of Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman is as per requirements, appointed by RBI. The office of the ombudsman is not yet specified but the same can be any place across India as may be considered necessary and proper in respect of compliance.

Reserve Bank of India shall establish the Centralised Receipt and Processing Centre at any place (currently at Chandigarh) to receive the complaints filed under the Scheme and process them. The designated portal will accept the complaints digitally, electronically (via e-mail ID) and physically modes available. 

Conclusion:

Concluding the launch of Ombudsman Scheme integrated one with slogan of One Nation One Ombudsman, its welcome step by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). As the operation and management will be at centralized level with open scope of lodging the complaint at more prudent and fairer enough by users in addition to extensive right and power of Ombudsman. This helps financial user to protect themselves from unnecessary harassment and unethical practice of regulated entities as far as service delivery is concerned.

Read Also: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) – Retail Direct Scheme

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Author
Vinay Singh
Vinay Thakur is Managing Partner in Corpseed. He focused on payments, digital transformation, and financial technology for over 15 years and holds strong expertise on fintech startups, banking innovation, and investors with a keen understanding of the trends and activities of startups, banks, and investors in the space.