Hike Messenger has found a new way to reach out to users on slower mobile networks. The Delhi-based mobile messenger service has introduced a new app called Total, which uses its proprietary technology based on USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) protocol to send messages, carry out mobile recharges and deliver news updates and live scores.

USSD is a GSM technology used to send SMS messages from one smartphone to another. Unlike the Hike messenger, which sends messages as data packets over the Internet, USSD doesn’t require an internet connection to work, and instead relies on messages.

Hike has decided to keep Total exclusive to handsets by original equipment manufacturers who partnered with it. So, it won’t be available for download on the Google Play Store. Intex Aqua Lions N1, Aqua Lions T1, Aqua Lions T1-Lite and Karbonn A40 Indian will be the first set of budget smartphones which will have Total pre-installed on them. Also, the app will work only with SIM cards from Bharti Airtel Ltd, Aircel Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.

With Total, users can send messages, access Hike Wallet, recharge their number, check horoscopes, get news/score updates even when their smartphone is not connected to the internet without incurring any extra charges. Users can access all the features with a single login, using the mobile number. Total has small footprint and will take up just 1MB of space. Hike is offering Rs200 in advance to users who buy these smartphones. The first batch of these handsets will be released in March 2018.

USSD has been used by a number of banking apps and services for payments as it is more secure and difficult to intercept. However, this is the first instance when a mobile messenger has used it on a wide scale. This can come in very handy for users when they are travelling and internet connection is patchy or not available at all.

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