TRAI to review USSD for mobile banking services

Mobile banking India
Telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) has floated a consultation paper to review the framework for the use of USSD for mobile financial services.

TRAI aims to review the guidelines related to USSD in mobile banking sector because only about 37 lakh mobile banking transaction attempts (over USSD channel) reached NPCI’s platform (*99#) in May 2016.

The poor response to USSD channel is despite the availability of 22.519 crore Jan-dhan accounts in India, more than 100 crore Aadhar cards, and more than 100 crore mobile connections.

TRAI noted that USSD-based mobile banking service did not gain popularity amongst the unbanked / under-banked population. “Even after two years since August 201421, when it became available to all GSM subscribers in the country, the progress of USSD-based mobile banking is below expectations,” said TRAI.

TRAI noted that the present tariff per USSD session for mobile banking offered by telecoms is several times higher than the average tariff for outgoing voice call or outgoing SMS or data transfer.

Telecoms offer self-care services to their customers on USSD channel for free-of-charge. It indicates that (i) the network infrastructure for USSD messaging is already in place in their networks and (ii) the USSD-based services are not very expensive.

TRAI said the fact that both SMS and USSD travel on inexpensive signalling channels, the cost per USSD session is expected to be much lower than the present levels of tariff per USSD session for USSD-based mobile banking.

TRAI want to know

Q1: In your opinion, what should be the maximum number of stages per USSD session for mobile banking service: (i) Five (ii) Eight (iii) Unlimited (iv) Any other (please specify) Please provide justification in support of your response.

Q2: Which of the following methods is appropriate for prescribing the tariff for USSDbased mobile banking? (i) Cost-based tariff for outgoing USSD session for mobile banking; or (ii) Monthly (or periodic) subscription fee for the use of USSD for mobile banking services; or (iii) Any other method

Q3: What methodology should be used for estimating the cost per USSD session for mobile banking service?

Q4: If your response to the Q2 is ‘Any other Method’, please provide full details of the method.

Q5: Whether it would be appropriate to mandate the service providers to levy charges for USSD session for mobile banking only if the customer is able to complete his/her transaction? If yes, please describe the method to implement such an arrangement technically?

Q6: Whether the present pricing model for USSD-based mobile banking in which consumers pay for the use of USSD should continue?

Q7: In case your response to the Q6 is in the negative, what should be alternative pricing models? Please provide justification in support of your response.

Q8: Keeping in view the concerns raised by the TSPs, whether there is a need for allowing USSD push sessions when customer-initiated USSD session is dropped due to some reason so that the customer can complete his/her unfinished transaction? Please support your response with justifications.

Q9: Whether it would be appropriate to allow all variety of mobile payment services apart from the mobile baking services on the existing USSD Aggregation platform(s)? Please support your response with justification.

Q10: Is there any other relevant issue which should be considered in the present consultation on the review of regulatory framework for the use of USSD for mobile financial services?

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