Soon, dial to get bank balance enquiry


22 Mar 2011
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In a move that could save banks crores of rupees every year, the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) has mooted a system where non-financial transactions like balance enquiry could be moved out of bank ATMs to mobile phones.

National Payments Corporation of India is in talks with mobile companies to facilitate banking transactions through USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) messages. USSD messages are at present used by mobile companies to enable users check pre-paid balances and get information on offers by dialing a specific code.

USSD messages are exchanged over a real-time connection with the telecom company's server and are therefore faster and more responsive than SMS queries. NPCI, a body promoted by banks at the instance of Reserve Bank of India, has taken over the backbone of all electronic payment transactions from an arm of RBI. It is also plays the role of the facilitator in India's Interbank Mobile Payment System (IMPS).

Speaking at the Economic Times Bank Technology Summit here on Thursday, A P Hota, MD NPCI, said that each day around 1.5 million balance enquiry transactions are conducted daily through third-party ATMs. "These transactions are free for the customer if it is within the five transactions a month limit.

But their banks have to pay the bank that owns the ATM between Rs 5 to Rs 8 for every enquiry," said Hota. He added that there are 20 to 25 transactions that are available on ATMs and if all non-financial transactions can be moved out of ATMs to mobile phones banks could save substantially on their costs.

"We need to leverage mobile technology and increase awareness and discourage balance enquiry at ATMs," he said. Although there is no move to change the present system of five free transactions, it is expected that the convenience of mobile queries would reduce the burden on the 86,000 ATMs in the country.

At present, mobile banking is largely undertaken by customers registered for IMPS through mobile banking applications on smart phones. Although 28 banks and 11 million customers are registered for mobile banking, the number of transactions taking place on this platform is miniscule.
Good move...but there is chance that mobile operator may start charging premium rates for this service....
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