The National Payments Corp of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payments systems in the country, plans to upgrade USSD, its digital banking service for feature phones, to enable low-end phone users do mobile banking.
Unstructured supplementary service data or USSD-based mobile banking is a messaging platform, which allows you to send money, check account balance, get mini statement and transfer funds up to R5,000, without Internet connectivity.
“Our focus is USSD optimisation. Today, the general public is challenged by the multiple information supply for completing a transaction. In a week’s time, the new USSD platform will be ready,” said AP Hota, managing director and CEO, of NPCI.
The move is expected to push low-end feature phone users, constituting nearly 64% of the Indian mobile market, toward mobile-based banking and payment services.
TRAI chairman RS Sharma recently said that broadband penetration in India was a miniscule 7%, and around 473 million people in the country still use feature phones.
Hence, the opportunity for USSD is huge.
THE NPCI is working to make the USSD platform more user-friendly, given that high rates and complexity of operations had stalled it earlier.
”We are making the system’s memory more powerful so that customers would not be asked their bank’s name and the language each time they do a transaction... The language will be a fixed input as per the customer’s choice,” Hota said
Further, for doing non-financial transactions, including checking account balance or statement, it will not ask for the PIN every time a transaction is done from the same log in.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has waived off initial charges on the short code messages on the USSD platform from R1.50 per transaction to 50 paisa till December 31, 2016, to promote mobile banking. State-owned BSNL has also decided to waive charges on USSD till January 31, 2017.
“We need to work on push USSD, where the burden of pressing keys and pulling codes should move from the payer to the merchant,” telecom secretary JS. Deepak said recently.