Short code messages for mobile banking free till 31 December

The move by telecom firms is aimed at increasing digital payments and reducing difficulty for the common man in light of demonetisation


After the cut-off date, the short code text messages will be charged at a maximum of Rs50 paise, from the earlier Rs1.50. Photo: Mint
After the cut-off date, the short code text messages will be charged at a maximum of Rs50 paise, from the earlier Rs1.50. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Telecom operators will make short code messages used for banking services free till 31 December, a move aimed at fuelling cashless transactions following the government move to scrap Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.

The development came soon after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) cut the charges of sending short code messages to 50 paise, down from Rs1.50. “At present, a charge is being levied by telecom operators for mobile banking, which is commonly known as USSD charge,” telecom minister Manoj Sinha said in a tweet.

To facilitate use of electronic banking facility and reducing difficulty for the common man in light of the demonetisation, telecom operators have decided to waive the charges for mobile banking services till 31 December 2016, he added. “This move will help people with feature phones to access electronic banking facility without incurring any additional cost till 31 December 2016,” he said.

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The government is aggressively pushing consumers to adopt digital payment methods to bring in transparency and tide over the ongoing liquid cash crunch following the demonetisation. Short code messages are used by consumers to avail banking services like checking balance, withdrawals, deposits and peer-to-peer-transfer.

After the cut-off date, the short code text messages will be charged at a maximum of 50 paise, from the earlier Rs1.50, as per today’s notification by Trai. Industry players have been of the view that at Rs1.50, the cost was steep and this inhibited the widespread adoption of mobile-based transactions, especially in rural areas that see high usage of feature phones.

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