According to a response received through a Right to Information (RTI) request, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has received more than 600,000 complaints against scheduled banks within the period of April 2022 to April 2023. The information provided in the RTI reply reveals that 607,345 complaints were registered under the RBI’s Integrated Ombudsman Scheme between April 2022 and March 2023. Additionally, in April 2023 alone, the Central Bank received 1,255 complaints against scheduled banks.
The RTI response also discloses that during the same timeframe, the RBI received over 100,000 complaints against the State Bank of India, the largest public sector bank in India. Following closely behind was HDFC Bank, one of the prominent private sector banks, with over 56,000 complaints received by the RBI. Other banks that received a significant number of complaints under the RBI’s Integrated Ombudsman Scheme include ICICI Bank (over 54,000 complaints), Axis Bank (47,000 complaints), Punjab National Bank (34,000 complaints), Bank of Baroda (28,000 complaints), and Kotak Mahindra Bank (24,000 complaints).
Furthermore, the RBI’s Ombudsman scheme encompasses complaints against digital payments banks, as the usage of digital banks for transactions has gained popularity due to the growth of Digital India. Paytm Payments Bank received more than 15,000 complaints, while Airtel Payments Bank received over 5,500 complaints during the mentioned period.
The high number of grievances lodged against these well-known banks can be attributed to their extensive customer base compared to smaller banks. For instance, the State Bank of India, which recorded the highest number of complaints, serves over 450 million customers through its vast network of 22,000 branches and more than 62,000 ATMs across India. HDFC, the bank with the second-highest number of complaints, serves more than 60 million customers through 6,000 branches nationwide.
However, the RBI’s RTI response also highlights that over 97% of the total complaints received under its Integrated Ombudsman Scheme between April 2022 and April 2023 have been resolved. Out of a total of 608,600 complaints received, the RBI has successfully addressed 607,903 of them.
The Integrated Ombudsman Scheme was launched in November 2021 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, integrating the previously existing three Ombudsman Schemes of RBI: the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006; the Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018; and the Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions, 2019. This integration aimed to establish a unified Ombudsman framework, referred to as “One Nation One Ombudsman.”
The RBI’s Banking Ombudsman Scheme in India provides an online platform for addressing various banking-related grievances. It was implemented to resolve customer complaints regarding specific banking services and facilitate their settlement. Individuals can file complaints with the RBI Ombudsman if they experience deficiencies in services provided by the bank. The RBI categorizes deficiencies as non-acceptance of small denomination notes or coins, charging excessive commission, non-payment or delays in payment or collection of cheques, drafts, or bills, non-adherence to prescribed working hours, non-disbursement or delays in disbursement of pensions, refusal or delays in account closure, imposition of charges without sufficient prior notice, refusal to open deposit accounts without valid reasons, among other grievances.