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As part of the 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 the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Banking Regulation Act 1949, Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999, etc. Submission frequency of these returns may be daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annual. The conventional methods of returns submission follow traditional and non-web based modes of communication, viz., hard copies sent through postal service, faxes and PDF files sent through e-mails.

All these modes of filing returns 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, there is no requirement for re-distributing any software to the banks. Initially, ORFS was developed for one of the most important returns, Form A return, 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, there are 22 returns under ORFS. A list of returns submitted using ORFS is available here.

Under ORFS, commercial banks enter data or upload the 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 reach a central data pool, which is then pushed to the respective 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 the central data pool, and, between the central data pool and the computer systems used by user departments within the Reserve Bank.

ORFS has reduced the reporting burden of banks and avoids the need for multiple submission of returns at various departments of Reserve Bank. The online validation checks improve the quality of information to a large extent.

It also resulted in considerable reduction of the time lag between the time of data submission by banks and the time required for data processing by user departments of RBI.




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