As a part of regulatory and supervisory functions bestowed on it, the Reserve Bank of India collects various fixed format data (called 'Returns') from commercial banks, financial institutions, authorized dealers and non-banking financial institutions. Many of these returns are statutory under Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Banking Regulation Act 1949, Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999, etc. Submission frequency of these returns varies from daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and annual.
Conventional form of returns submission follows traditional and non-web based modes of communication, viz., hard copies send through postal service, faxes and PDF files send through e-mails. With the evolution of computers, some returns are collected through pre-coded software distributed across banks.
All these modes of returns collection have their own limitations. Online Returns Filing System (ORFS) is a single window returns submission system which harnesses the power of internet. Incorporating any change in the return template requires modification of the application software hosted centrally and is accessible using web technology, thus not require re-distribution of any software to the banks. ORFS also has incorporated digital signature for additional data security during data transmission, over and above it has exclusive network security implemented on the secured web-server and its peripherals.
Initially, ORFS was developed for one of the most important returns, namely, Form A return being submitted by banks as per Section 42(2) of the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934. This is a fortnightly return, submitted by banks on 'Reporting Fridays'. The system has slowly expanded to other returns. Currently, around 58 returns are at various stages of implementation. A list of returns is available here for submission using ORFS.
Under ORFS, commercial banks enter data or upload return online through the web based front-end, access of which is given to banks through a user based access policy. Returns submitted by banks first reaches a central data pool, which is then pushed to the user departments in the Reserve Bank.
ORFS recognizes the power of eXtensible Markup Language (XML), which is the basic communication format between the front-end and central data pool, and, between central data pool and computer systems used by user departments within the Reserve Bank.
ORFS has reduced the reporting burden of banks and avoids the need for multiple submissions of returns at various departments of Reserve Bank. The online validation checks improved the quality of information to a large extend.
It also resulted in reducing time lag of data submission by banks and data processing by user departments of RBI considerably.