In the backdrop of demonetization and the drive to encourage the cashless economy, telecom operators Vodafone India , Airtel, and Idea Cellular have announced the waiving off all USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) charges presently levied for mobile banking till 31 December 2016. Telcos believe that this measure can ease the burden of masses, primarily by encouraging the customers who use feature phones to adopt mobile banking.
Commenting on the waiving off charges, Mr. Sunil Sood, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone India, said, “Vodafone India is committed to helping actualize the Government’s several initiatives designed to make India a digital economy. To ease the burden of masses, we are waiving off all USSD charges presently levied for mobile banking till 31 December 2016.”
“As several million customers use feature phones, we are hopeful that this free access to mobile banking will encourage them to adopt it as their preferred and convenient mode for banking,” he said.
Vodafone has its digital wallet service M-Pesa. “With Vodafone M-Pesa, we are leveraging the reach of mobile technology to drive financial inclusion and offer the convenience of a digital wallet for easy transactions. The unique cash out feature of Vodafone M-Pesa makes it the ideal digital wallet for masses, enabling users to digitize cash, remit it to family and friends, pay bills and/or withdraw it at their convenience from over 120,000 touch points across the country,” Sood added.
“To support customers during the ongoing demonetization exercise, Bharti Airtel has waived off transaction charges for all USSD-based mobile banking transactions over its network till December 31, 2016. We would encourage customers to leverage this benefit for their convenience,” said an Airtel spokesperson.
The USSD service allows customers to access banking services through a short code *99# irrespective of mobile carrier. The subscribers have to enter the first four digits of the IFSC of the bank to access the USSD-based services.