Imagine you are at a place where there is limited or no internet coverage, and you need to do some banking transactions urgently. If your number is registered for mobile banking services with your bank, you can carry out financial transactions by simply dialling *99# from any feature phone.
What is it?
The facility is available under the NUUP (National Unified USSD Platform) service, which was launched by the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI), initially in 2012, and then in 2014, with a wider range of services and coverage. The service works on a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) communication protocol. It is a communication technology that is used to send texts between a mobile phone and an application program in the network and works only on GSM (Global System for Mobile) phones.
How does it work?
The NUUP service works by bringing together all the banks and telecom service providers and lets a customer access banking services on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
You simply need to dial *99# on the phone, and wait for a few seconds. The service options will appear on your screen. These options include transferring funds using your mobile number, UPI ID, IFSC and bank account number, and so on. Use the desired service by dialling the number mentioned adjacent to the service. You can also request for money transfer to yourself using the mobile number or UPI ID, or check your bank balance, generate and change UPI PIN, and so on. The service enables you to send money even to a person who is not using the NUUP service. However, for this service to work, your mobile number should be registered for mobile banking services with your bank.
You cannot make big-ticket transfers using this service. A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guideline prescribes a cap of ₹5,000 per transaction for financial transactions facilitated by the bank without end-to-end encryption.
While most banks do not levy any charge for using this service, your telecom operator might charge you every time you use the *99# service. For example, Airtel charges ₹0.50 for every transaction. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) guidelines, telecom service providers can charge a maximum of ₹1.50 per transaction for using the service.
Things to remember
There is no risk of this service being misused even if you lose your phone as the user will need to enter the UPI PIN to carry out any transaction. However, it is recommended that you immediately inform the bank and deactivate mobile banking services to avoid any misuse.
Also, once you have initiated the transfer of funds, it cannot be cancelled, stopped or reversed as the service uses Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) service, which is an instant inter-bank fund transfer service. If there are any complaints or issues while using this service, you can get in touch with your bank or telecom service provider, depending on the kind of issue you are facing.