TRAI proposes to remove charges on USSD based mobile banking services

The digital payment services in India have increased dramatically in the recent years. There are many times when users have to use USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) messages for mobile banking, payment or other services. Users are generally charged with 50 paise for each session of USSD. A particular session can be completed in eight stages. However, keeping in mind about the increasing use of USSD, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed to remove charges on USSD messages in the future.

This move by TRAI is seemed as a move to promote digital transaction in India. If the proposal is well accepted by the stakeholders, then it will be great news for the users. Users should keep this fact in mind that the free USSD services will be only limited on mobile banking and payment services only. The remaining services of the USSD will remain unchanged.

TRAI pointed out that the present tariff per USSD session of any mobile banking service is several times higher than the tariff charged for one minute of outgoing voice call. Hence it has proposed zero charges on USSD messages for mobile banking and payment.

What is a USSD

An USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) message is used to check various services availed by the user. Just like an SMS a user can send it without active internet connection. Users have to type a code on their dialer screen and then press the send button. After a while a message is displayed on the mobile screen which tells them about the validity of a particular service. However, unlike an SMS, the USSD messages are not stored in the memory of the smartphone/ phone. The USSD notifications/ messages can be otherwise referred as a flash message.

Before the advent of mobile banking services and payment services, mobile phone users commonly used the service to check the call balance available on their registered mobile number at a given point of time. However, as the mobile phone services evolved the use of USSD for checking call balance reduced significantly

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