Confirmed: Your Amazon.in order XXX is successfully placed & will reach you on XX betwen 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Or

Your return pickup for XXX is scheduled for today and will be picked up between 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM by AmzAgent (XXXXXX0000)

If you’ve used Amazon e-commerce services in India, you would have received these types of SMSes almost immediately after you’re done placing your order (or a request) on the site. 

Except sending you those messages costs Amazon anywhere between Rs 700 crore (~US$90 million) to Rs 800 crore (~US$101million) annually, three independent sources confirmed. This is because Amazon is charged international SMS rates by Indian telecom companies Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vi. And Amazon wants to put a stop to this.

The Ken has learnt that the US based e-commerce giant has been lobbying the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) since 2019-20, alleging that it’s being overcharged by the telcos for sending text messages in India. Amazon claims the messages it sends are domestic and that they originate from Indian servers.

Telcos, on the contrary, believe that since the company hosts application and user databases in servers outside India—located in Dublin, according to The Ken’s sources—its text messages are triggered by servers outside India, and thus qualify as international SMSes. Telcos charge International Long Distance (ILD) rates from companies such as Amazon, Meta, Google, and the Indian social media apps such as ShareChat, who have servers located outside India.

Recently, Google Pay and Paytm* even petitioned petitioned Economic Times Replace SMS alerts for customers' bank transactions with app notifications: industry lobbies Read more the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) via industry body Nasscom to replace SMSes with in-app notifications for financial transactions as they’re “more secure” and cheaper.

Amazon, like other internet giants, relies on text messages for a range of functions and services including resetting user passwords, logins, financial transactions, educational messages, etc. Some of these companies—including Amazon—send approximately 300 million messages in a month in India, according to a senior executive with a top telemarketing company which works closely with internet giants for messaging. Meta—with a family of apps including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—spends almost as much as Amazon on SMSes, say industry sources.

But of all the international SMSes sent, Amazon alone accounts for roughly 20% of the traffic, said the senior executive. It’s no surprise then that the e-tailer behemoth—valued at US$1.6 trillion—believes that SMS charges could result in ‘substantial financial implications’ for the company.

AUTHOR

Pratap Vikram Singh

Pratap is based out of Delhi and covers policy and myriad intersections with the other sectors, most notably technology. He has worked with Governance Now for seven years, reporting on technology, telecom policy, and the social sector.

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