India is aiming to be a leader in the digital payment segment. UPI (Unified Payments Interface) payments require a stable Internet connection to conduct all transactions. What to do when you've to complete payments online using UPI but are unable to do it because the Internet speed is extremely slow. There's a method to use UPI in offline mode- Just use the *99# USSD code on your phone. One can transact with partial Internet on a smartphone through e-wallets such as Paytm, Google Pay, BharatPe, Amazon Pay, PhonePe, WhatsApp Pay, Airtel Payments Bank, and other apps that support UPI payments. Now no need to panic when there's no Internet as the *99# code is here! At the moment, it might not be actively in use as it is still in its progressing stages, but eventually, that is the goal for India's government.
In this blog, Fintra will reveal the following topics:
Since the invention of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), it has become an essential component of Indian financial transactions. When talking about UPI payments, it is usually associated with making digital transactions that require a stable Internet connection. In just a few seconds using a cellphone, UPI enables consumers to transfer funds from one bank account to another. Most e-wallets and payment platforms support UPI payments, which allows customers to send money quickly and simply. However, this online scenario is not the case always. One can still make UPI transactions without any hassles even if the Internet connection and/or smartphone isn't there.
Along with the online mode, UPI is also now available to non-Internet users who do not have smartphones. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has created a method for transferring funds via UPI offline where one does not require a mobile application. You simply have to dial *99#, known as the USSD 2.0 method, to avail the offline services. The USSD 2.0 is a technology that enables mobile device users to send funds via UPI even if there's no access to the Internet.
With this innovative new technology, transactions are feasible through the interactive menu that is displayed on the smartphone screen, despite the lack of an app interface. Key services offered under *99# service include sending and receiving interbank account to account funds, balance inquiries, setting/changing UPI PIN, and a host of other services. NPCI initially launched the *99# in November 2012, with limited reach, and only two TSPs were offering it, MTNL and BSNL. In general, after realizing and understanding the value of mobile banking in the financial inclusion and of *99# in particular, various regulatory/trade bodies came together to provide onboarding of all TSPs on *99#. As the ecosystem (11 TSPs) got wider, *99# was eventually dedicated to the nation by the Honourable Prime minister on 28th August 2014, as part of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna.
At first, it was on 25th August 2016, NPCI launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with a few member banks. This facility enables account holders to send and receive money using a unique id known as a UPI id or payment address. UPI lets users generate their UPI ID. Besides UPI ID, users can even send money using the conventional financial address, which is Account number + IFSC. Conceptualized as a mobile application based solution mainly catering to internet compatible phones (smartphone users), now UPI is available for non-internet based mobile devices (smartphone and basic phones ) in the form of *99# and is known as USSD 2.0. USSD 2.0 was launched along with BHIM on 30th December 2016. As quoted on the NCPI website, “*99# service has been launched to take the banking services to every common man across the country".
Currently, the *99# service is offered by 83 leading banks and all GSM service providers. It is in 13 different languages including Hindi & English. This service is a remarkable interoperable direct to consumer service, bringing together the myriad ecosystem partners, the Banks and TSPs (Telecom Service Providers).
Step 1: From your registered mobile number dial *99#
Step 2: Select your bank and bank account
Step 3: Enter the last six digits of your debit card and its expiry date
Step 4: Once you confirm the UPI PIN, you will be able to use this service on the mobile phone
Step 5: After the service has become active on your mobile, for transferring money, dial *99# from your registered mobile number
Step 6: Press the 1 button to send money and hit send
Step 7: Select the option you desire to use for transferring money. You can select 1 for mobile number, 3 for UPI ID, 4 for the saved beneficiary, and 5 for IFSC
Step 8: Finally, enter the amount to be sent and type your UPI PIN. You'll now receive a message confirming the transfer's success after it's completed
Do note for using the *99# service, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has set a maximum ceiling of Rs. 0.50 / transaction.
UPI (Unified Payments Interface) has boosted the evolution in the digital payment segment, making India a leader in such technology. Not many people are aware of this helpful innovation that can be used without the Internet as yet. However, with the above information and the guidelines, hopefully, many users will benefit, especially those who don't have Internet or a smartphone.