TRAI fixes mobile banking ceiling at Rs 1.50 per session

TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has today released the Telecommunication Tariff (Fifty Sixth Amendment) Order, 2013 prescribing a ceiling tariff of Rs 1.50 per USSD session.

The TRAI has also issued Mobile Banking (Quality of Service) (Amendment) Regulations, 2013. Together, these establish a framework to facilitate the agents of the banks to interface with the access service providers for use of SMS, USSD and IVR Channels to provide mobile banking services.

The availability of and easy access to banking services for all citizens is a major objective of public policy and mobile due to its increased reach in rural and urban areas is at an advantage vis-a-vis banks. Even the cost to rollout these services are cheaper than banking services as any franchisee is not dependent on banking services but also mobile services for their monthly earnings. Together, the franchisee earns enough to sustain himself/herself.

However, the harsh reality is that a large section of our population is till unbanked or under banked. With a significant penetration of mobile telephony in rural India, the mobile phone can be leveraged to achieve  the goal of financial inclusion which has not been acheived through normal banking route.

The customers would be able to perform five basic transactions using mobil phones- cash deposit, cash withdrawal, balance enquiry, transfer of money from one mobile linked account to another, and transfer of money to a mobile-linked amount from a regular bank account.

TRAI has concluded the following:  

1. Being a ubiquitous, inexpensive, secure and convenient channel, the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) is an appropriate channel for the mobile banking service for financial inclusion.

2. The telecom service providers should collect charges from their subscribers for providing the USSD channel to deliver mobile banking services.

3. The ceiling tariff for an outgoing USSD session for USSD-based mobile banking service shall be Rs 1.50 per USSD session.

4. Every telecom service provider, acting as bearer, should facilitate not only the banks but also the authorized agents of the banks to use SMS, USSD and IVR to provide banking services to the banks’ customers.

5. The maximum number of stages for completion of a mobile banking transaction has been increased from two to five.

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