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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.


  • Consumer education and protection is an integral component of RBI’s full-service central banking functions. The Consumer Education and Protection Department (CEPD), set up in 2006 as Customer Service Department (CSD), frames policy guidelines for consumer protection and oversees the functioning of the 22 Offices of RBI Ombudsman (ORBIOs) and 30 Consumer Education and Protection Cells (CEPCs). The major functions of CEPD include: (i) Administering the Reserve Bank – Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RB-IOS), 2021, which was formulated by integrating the erstwhile Ombudsman Schemes for banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Non-bank System Participants (NBSPs); (ii) Handling complaints regarding deficiencies in customer service in banks, received in RBI through the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) portal of Government of India (GoI); (iii) Serving as the Secretariat to the Appellate Authority (AA) under the RB-IOS, 2021; (iv) Overseeing the grievance redress mechanism in respect of services rendered by various offices/departments of RBI; (v) Liaising with banks, Indian Banks’ Association, ORBIOs and the regulatory departments of RBI on matters relating to customer service and grievance redress, and providing policy inputs; (vi) Creating consumer awareness and disseminating information relating to customer service and grievance redress by banks and RBI; and (vii) Compiling and publishing the Annual Report of the RB-IOS.
  • The Reserve Bank’s focused initiatives in the field of consumer protection began with the (i) setting up of Complaints Redressal Cell in 1995, (ii) instituting an Alternative Grievance Redress (AGR) mechanism through launch of Banking Ombudsman (BO) Scheme in 1995-96, and (iii) creation of a full-fledged CSD from the erstwhile Rural Planning and Credit Department. CSD was rechristened as CEPD in 2014.
  • The BO Scheme was launched as an AGR mechanism with a view, inter-alia, to bring redress of customer grievances against banks, which till then rested with the respective regulatory and supervisory departments, under a single platform. AGR mechanism offers the parties in a dispute, an alternative channel to redress their disputes, without approaching regular courts. Initially, retired judges/ bureaucrats/ senior bank officials were appointed as 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, inter-alia, to increase accountability and reduce the level of pendency in disposal of complaints. Over the years, many changes were brought in the BO Scheme including the appeal mechanism and higher monetary limit for compensation to complainants. The BO Scheme had specified grounds of complaints (31) and the BOs who operated from 22 different offices had specified and mutually exclusive jurisdictions.
  • Due to the growing significance of the NBFCs in the financial system and with a view to extend AGR to their customers as well, the Ombudsman Scheme for the NBFCs was launched in 2018 and was operated from four metro centers with each covering their respective zone. Similarly, with the rising share of NBSPs in digital transactions, the Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions (OSDT) was launched in 2019 with the BOs acting as Ombudsmen under the OSDT.
  • The three schemes, having evolved over different periods of time, had specified grounds of complaints which were not only different under each Scheme but also acted as a limiting factor and led to uneven redress across the customers of different entities. 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 at Centralised Receipt and Processing Center (CRPC) set up at RBI, Chandigarh to impart process efficiency, along with a Contact Center available at #14448 to provide information on grievance redress mechanism of RBI to complainants. Delegation was 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) along with the CRPC and Contact Center 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