written by | May 12, 2022

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Banking

USSD is a text messaging protocol for mobile communication used by the global system. It is compared with the SMS service, i.e. the short message service. The full form of USSD is unstructured supplementary service data. 

USSD employs codes that comprise the characters of mobile phones, and USSD messages can have up to one hundred and eighty-two characters. This enables real-time exchange of information, i.e. communication between phones and other devices such as a server or networks. Users engage with USSD directly from their mobile phones by selecting options from numerous menus. Unlike an SMS message, a USSD message maintains a real-time connection throughout a USSD session.

Overall, as the communication channel is open, USSD provides for two-way information communication. Queries and replies are, as a result, almost instantaneous. The major purpose of this service is to allow financial inclusion and integration of underbanked and economically disadvantaged segments of society into mainstream banking. 

Did You Know?

USSD enables various services like a call-back on a prepaid basis, information services on the menu-based, wireless application protocol (WAP) surfing, money services through mobile, and content services based on your location.

This service is available in 12 languages, including English and other Indian languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, and others, to make it more accessible to everyone. When a user transmits a message to the phone company network, it is received by a USSD-specific computer. The computer's response is transmitted back to the phone, usually in a simple format visible on the phone's display. Any standardisation group does not define messages sent by USSD; each network operator is free to implement whatever is best for its consumers. To use USSD based mobile banking, customers must dial *99# and navigate the interactive menu. Numerous banks in India currently offer the *99# service.

What Is the Purpose of USSD?

USSD is used for a variety of reasons, including the ones listed below:

  • Mobile banking - Unlike banking apps, which require internet access and smartphone functionality, USSD banking can be accessed through any mobile device, including feature phones.
  • Requests and network configuration - USSD is a network configuration method for a user's mobile device. It also offers a menu of service alternatives from which a user can select to purchase airtime or request account balances.
  • Update requests from customers - To obtain up-to-date customer information, USSD can be integrated with CRM systems, i.e. the customer relationship management system and the ERP, i.e. the enterprise resource planning systems. As a result, customer service and data accuracy are improved.
  • Surveys on marketing - Mobile marketing can make use of USSD. Organisations, for example, can send simple marketing surveys to users, who can react promptly, allowing companies to gain real-time client feedback.
  • Call-back services - Service providers, such as insurance firms and financial institutions, can use USSD to assess their consumers' preferences by allowing them to request call-backs after presenting their offers.
  • Confirmations of orders - Food delivery services can employ USSD to facilitate two-way communication between customers who place orders and vendors who notify customers when their orders are on their way.
  • Vouchers and coupons - Retailers can utilise USSD to send Specialised vouchers and coupons to customers and convey special offers.
  • Work is done around the clock.
  • Simple to use
  • It is compatible with all GSM handsets.
  • It is a highly secure interface.
  • Certain operators use USSD to provide real-time information from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some feature phones receive articles from Wikipedia via USSD.
  • USSD is occasionally used in conjunction with SMS. The user submits a request to the network using USSD, and the network responds with a receipt acknowledgement. The status and outcomes of the first request are then communicated via one or more mobile terminated SMS messages.

Also Read: Guide to Payment Gateways and How They Secure E-Commerce Transactions

Processing of USSD Payments

Delivering a text message to a service supplier is how USSD payment processing is done. When the service provider receives the text message, the purchase money would be charged to a payment system or debited to the user's service fee. The items or services are then shipped, and the money is put into the company's bank account. 

The media messenger app, which allows files to be transferred to consumers via SMS, is used to provide digital goods regularly. The receipt can be sent through SMS or MMS if the buyer purchases a physical item. 

USSD Gateway

  1. A USSD gateway service also referred to as the USSD centre sends and receives USSD messages from the signalling network to a service application. 
  2. It is contingent on the ability of the delivery agent or source to send and receive such messages. 
  3. USSD messages are used to inquire about information and generate services, which is done through the GSM signalling channels. 
  4. USSD creates a real-time session among a mobile handset and the application managing the service, contrasting comparable services based on shop technologies like SMS and MMS.

*99# Payment Service on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data

  1. *99# payment service is a service that works over the unstructured supplementary service data channel. It helps in completing the banking transactions over a person's mobile phone. 
  2. Even a basic feature mobile phone will enable to complete such transactions. Internet connection or mobile internet data is not required for mobile banking in this service. 
  3. It is a simple system that will help all people, especially the underbanked society, to be included financially. The *99# service was developed to bring banking services to every regular guy in the country. 
  4. Banking users can use this service by dialling *99# on their mobile phones. This number is a common number that can be used across all the telecom service providers. It will help transact through an interactive menu presented on the mobile screen.
  5. Interbank account to account fund transfer, balance inquiry, mini statement, and a variety of additional services are among the key services provided by the *99# service.
  6. It is a one-of-a-kind interoperable direct-to-consumer service that brings together a wide ecosystem of partners such as banks and telecom service providers. 

Procedure to Send Money With MMID & Mobile Number Using USSD *99#

The procedure to send money with MMID and mobile number using USSD *99# is given as follows-

  • Register your bank account with r cell phone number and dial *99#
  • The interface will appear, and you will be able to type three letters of your bank's short name or the first four letters of your bank IFSC code or the first two digits of your numeric bank code and then click send.
  • Now select 3 to send money and enter the payee / mobile beneficiary number.
  • Enter the beneficiary/payee MMID and transaction amount.
  • Enter your MPIN and the last four digits of your bank account number.

Procedure to Send Money Using USSD *99# With IFSC Code 

The procedure to send money using USSD *99# with an IFSC code and a bank account number is given as follows-

  • From your registered mobile number, dial *99#.
  • Enter the first three letters of your bank's short name or first four letters of your bank IFSC code or the first two digits of your bank numeric code.
  • Select the option to transfer funds using an IFSC code and a cell phone number.
  • Enter the account number of the beneficiary/payee, the IFSC code, and the transaction amount.
  • Enter your MPIN and the last four digits of your bank account. A confirmation notice will appear on the screen.

Also Read: What are the Different Digital Payment Methods?

USSD Codes Used for Different Languages

The USSD codes used for different languages are given in the table below-


USSD code 


























*99# service, which works on the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) channel and is one of the innovative payment systems offered by the government. This service was created with mobile banking in mind and the necessity for immediate low-value remittances that will aid in financial deepening and the participation of the underbanked populace in mainstream banking services.

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Q: What is the USSD code for English?


USSD code for the English language is *99#.

Q: What does USSD provide us?


USSD can be used to provide independent calling services such as a callback service (to avoid phone expenses while travelling), boost mobile marketing capabilities, or deliver interactive data services. USSD is often used by prepaid GSM cellular phones to check the available balance.

Q: Can USSD be hacked?


Yes, USSD can be hacked since its messages are not encrypted and thus vulnerable to being hacked.

Q: How can I find out if my bank provides this service?


To find out if your bank offers the service, visit the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) website.

Q: Is it necessary to register your mobile number to utilise the service?


Yes, it is. Your mobile phone number should be linked to your bank account.

Q: How do I find out if my bank provides this service?


To find out if your bank provides the service, visit the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) website.

Q: Do you need an app to use *99#?


No, we don't need an app to use *99#.

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