We are into the second month of the demonetisation process. In the last one month, several cashless forms of financial transactions have become popular. Mobile-based transactions have spiked as people have adopted e-wallets, payment banks and UPI.
Connectivity plays a key role in enabling options such as e-wallets and UPI. As per data available, there were at least 350 million internet users in India as of 2015. As of February 2016, 17% Indians—that’s around 220 million people—owned smartphones.
What about the rest of the population that doesn’t have a smartphone, isn’t connected to the internet, and uses a plain-vanilla feature phone? Or, what if you have a smartphone but aren’t connected to the internet? How do you transact with your cellphone? Fortunately, some options have been put in place.
USSD based payments
Here’s one mobile banking option that works without the internet. Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) allows you to spend money from your linked bank account. The National Payments Corporation of India had developed a mobile banking system that helps you check account balance, generate a mini statement, and transfer money to other parties using this system.
To use this service, you must visit your bank to generate an MMID—mobile money identifier. Your bank account is then linked to your cellphone number, allowing you to begin using this service through your cellphone.
To transact through USSD, you need to place a call to *99#. You would then be required to authenticate the call using details such as the first four letters of your bank’s IFSC. After this, you will receive menu options on your screen which would allow you to check your bank statement or transfer funds.
To transfer funds, you need to select from the listed options. You must enter the payee’s MMID and authenticate the transfer with your MPIN. You have to be quick with your inputs since the menu options remain valid for 10 seconds. If you fail to input in that period, you must restart the call.
There is currently a cap of R5,000 per transaction through USSD, but this is enough to carry out day-to-day, small-sized transactions. Earlier there was a small charge of 50 paise per call. However, it has been waived off by most telcos following the demonetisation drive.
Call and Pay
A leading e-wallet company has made transacting a little easier by launching a call-and-pay option for its users. If you are a registered user with this e-wallet looking to transact with another user of the same e-wallet, you must place a call at a number using your registered cellphone number. If you’re a first-time user, you must first generate a four-digit PIN. Later, you can proceed with the transaction by entering the payee’s registered cellphone number, followed by the amount and your four-digit PIN. The only catch is that you need to have a balance in your e-wallet to be able to transact.
The writer is CEO, BankBazaar.com