Wonder if you could dial in a number and retrieve all your bank transaction details on the go? Well, the dream nears reality as bank account holders will be able to access their accounts, transfer funds, check balances and request cheque books by dialing *99# from their mobile phones, including the most basic GSM handsets.
The *99# will be a universal code to access account details across all banks in the country. The unique aspect about this initiative is that the *99# connectivity is under the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform where each dial-in results in a live connection with the bank’s server, which negates any mishandling of transactions.
The system is similar to the one used in pre-paid phones to check balances, which can be operated via numerical literacy of the user. The number is not based on SMS or GPRS connectivity, so the user is not charged for dialing.
Highlighting the importance of electronic mode, P Chidambaram, finance minister said, the strategy is to have Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts for all and to transfer government benefits such as pension, scholarships and subsidies directly to individual accounts. The government has set December 2013 as the deadline for banks to ensure that all beneficiaries have Aadhaar numbers linked to their bank accounts and to ensure that those without an account are given one.
The government is pushing mobile banking because it will provide those in remote areas, the opportunity to access their Aadhaar accounts even if banks are not around nearby.
The *99# service is the brainchild of the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). According to AP Hota, MD and CEO, NPCI, the new service best suits India as it is simple and secure since no information is stored in the mobile device. “Ninety percent of phones used in the country are GSM handsets and this service works on all GSM phones, irrespective of make, cost, operating system or even the telecom service provider,” said Hota.