*99# – the number that will massively change Inclusive Banking in India

Jan Dhan Yojana, Differentiated Banking Licenses, Payments Banks – these are the words trending in the Banking corridors as the new regime of Central Government reaches the 100 day mark in Office.

As of July 2014*, there are 744 million GSM subscribers in India. Metro cities account for only 11% of the subscriptions. Rural India accounts for 302.73 Million subscribers as of June 2014.

How can the Banks reach out to the rural population through an affordable, 24×7 electronic banking channel that is easy to understand and use?

NUUP (National Unified USSD Platform) comes in as a viable technology based mobile banking services that meet the goals of the Government to take Banking to the masses.

NPCI has worked hard with various ministries in the Government (Ministries of Finance, Telecom), regulators (RBI, TRAI), mobile telephony service providers, banking technology providers and the Banks to evolve the Common Menu design for NUUP. Irrespective of the Bank with whom the mobile banking services registered-customer holds the account, the menu design for the NUUP services will be remain the same.

Common Menu design will help the customers to avail of standardized services across Banks on the USSD platform. Standardization also minimizes the learning curve to adapt to mobile banking and eventually the success of NUUP.

Transaction drivers

NUUP success depends on simplicity of service delivery, relevance and usability of the services for performing basic banking services. Other critical factors that influence driving transactions are – seamless interoperability between various systems, consistency in service delivery and high availability.

1. Simplicity

As mobile telephony devices get smarter day by day, the need of the hour is to remove the complexity of mobile banking and payments:

  • downloading, installing, using the mobile banking application and updating the new release apps by the user
  • Service provider end complexity to build applications across a range of operating systems/environments, screen sizes, mode of connectivity and method of interaction.
  • Process of registering and on-boarding bank customers to mobile banking and payments.

The goal is to simplify the way mobile banking and payments are done.

NUUP/ USSD does not require any software to be downloaded to the phone, does not require data services subscription on the phone and mobile OS/environment agnostic. Also, NUUP works well across different vintage of mobile handset models.

NUUP services are available instantly to any customer who has registered the mobile number with the Bank.

The simplicity of NUUP will help the service reach out to the masses.

2. FAST (Frequently Accessed Set of Transactions)

NUUP service presently supports three financial transactions and five non-financial transactions that take care of the basic banking needs.

Financial transactions supported by NUUP
1. Funds Transfer – MMID (IMPS P2P – Immediate Payment Service – Person to Person)
2. Funds Transfer – Account to account (IMPS P2A – Immediate Payment Service – Person to Account)
3. Funds Transfer – Aadhaar (IMPS P2U – Immediate Payment Service – Person to UIDAI)

Non-financial transactions supported by NUUP
1. Balance enquiry
2. Mini statement
3. Generate OTP (One Time Password)
4. Change MPIN
5. Know MMID (Mobile Merchant Identifier)

3. Seamless interoperability between systems

NPCI along with the regulators were successful in bringing in all the 12 telecom operators together and ensuring that there is a business case for all the stake holders to provide the services.

The telecom operators earlier had commercial viability issues related to scaling up the infrastructure to route transactions between one network to the other. NPCI and the telecom operators were able to get into an agreement to resolve the commercial viability issue. Telecom operators are likely to charge their subscribers – Rs.1.50 for each USSD session.

Telco interoperability is a key driver to the NUUP service availability.

4. Consistency in Service Delivery

The successful adoption of the service, entirely depends on the first time user experience and the consistency in the service delivery till such time the customer ‘trusts’ the service.

NUUP service delivery depends on multiple discrete systems – starting from the network availability between the mobile device to the nearest telco tower.

Connectivity between the entities – Telecom service providers, NPCI, Bank’s mobile service provider and Bank host systems play a crucial part in ensuring service availability. All the systems need to work in unison to enable consistent service delivery.

FSS ready for NUUP

FSS is offering the NUUP services, as a part of the FSS~Mobile Pay (Mobile Banking and Payments) services on a shared infrastructure hosted services in a world class data center at FSSNeT, Siruseri, Chennai, from August 28th 2014 onwards.

NUUP is all set to change the landscape of how mobile banking services are offered in India. The success of NUUP will help other growing economies to re-cast their Mobile Banking and Payment strategies for Inclusive Banking Services.

* Data source: Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) report June, July 2014 published at www.coai.com