The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released Telecommunication Tariff (68th Amendment) Order, 2022 on “Regulatory framework for USSD-based tariff”.

As per the release, TRAI has eliminated tariffs for unstructured supplementary service data (USSD)-based mobile banking and payment services from Rs 0.50 per session earlier, in a bid to boost digital financial inclusion and protect the interests of ordinary feature phone users.

TRAI had earlier, in 2013, issued the Telecommunication Tariff (56th Amendment) Order prescribing a ceiling tariff of Rs 1.50 per USSD session for USSD-based mobile banking service. Subsequently, the Authority through Telecommunication Tariff (61st Amendment) Order, 2016 reduced USSD based tariff for banking and payment services ceiling from Rs. 1.50 to Rs. 0.50 per session.

In order to review the existing regulatory framework for USSD based tariffs, TRAI issued draft Telecommunication Tariff (66th Amendment) Order on November 24, 2021 wherein the regulatory proposed scrapping of USSD charges for mobile banking and payment services.

After analysing the comments received from stakeholders and other data/ information available with it, TRAI is of the view that, to protect the interests of the USSD users and to promote digital financial inclusion, rationalisation of USSD charges is required. In view of the same, the regulator decided to scrap charges for USSD for mobile banking and payment service.

In addition, as per the release, TRAI will continue to keep a watch on the progress of service and may review the charge after a period of two years.