In this article, we are going to break down USSD and explain everything you need to know about it.
USSD is a ubiquitous acronym, but its full meaning is unknown to most people. The full meaning of USSD is Unstructured Supplementary Service Data.
Have you had about that before?
Before the introduction of the mobile phone in most parts of the world, lots of us had never heard of USSD as it is a term used mainly in the mobile telecommunication industry.
USSD code is a menu-based technology that is very interactive and supports all kinds of mobile devices.
The USSD platform is a kind of technology that provides a user-friendly service accessible from a computer.
There are lots of services that can be done with the USSD codes.
Examples of them are; checking airtime balance, airtime recharge, data subscriptions, access to information, package activation and deactivation and so on.
The use of the USSD service is practical and fundamental while offering a channel of communication.
The code allows users to access or confirm services by dialing the shortcode.
USSD code is essential in this modern-day technology for simplicity and flexibility of service that can be enabled via it.
USSD Code Format
Now that we are done explaining the surface meaning of USSD let’s go deeper by looking at the format, the USSD code makes use of.
Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code is always short and simple. It’s always defined by the * and the # signs, which you will always find on your phone keyboard.
The codes are always added at the first and last of the series of digits before you press the send button.
The USSD code always starts with “*” sign and ends with the “#” sign. In some cases, the “*” are also added between the digits, one or more times.
The service is used to initiate two-way communication between an application and the subscribers. It provides a fast and flexible way to communicate with your customers.
Just as we indicated earlier, the user makes unique dialling starting with * or # then followed by code. This will enter the menu of services that the code provides, which is linked to the telecom company.
The USSD service works via mobile channels through initiated sessions where the user communicates directly with the application menus.
The menus or services are created and customized through APIs, according to specific needs, which were introduced.
Benefits of USSD Codes
USSD codes, in some cases, work as an alternative channel, although the idea can be set to work independently.
The idea behind it become a channel that complements the communications of the company.
The best part of it is that it offers a different level of alternatives to users, which guarantees access to aspect information. USSD is a perfect way to make your company omnichannel. Yes, it is.
USSD Vs SMS
Unlike SMS, which is stored in the mobile phone, USSD texts and interactions work with sessions; it expires once the user is off that screen. Sometimes it also expires with timer, after seconds of minutes. It makes it become one of the safest ways for sensitive information.
The USSD screen allows a maximum of 182 characters, while SMS limit is only 160 characters.
Short Message Service (SMS) requires a message center number to function properly, and a message can get delayed on the process. In contrast, the USSD runs directly via the telecom network without delay, else when not available.
USSD is compatible with all kinds of mobile device that has a connection with a telecom operator.
Does USSD Need an Internet Connection?
No, USSD doesn’t require an internet connection to function. With or without an internet connection, USSD works perfectly. It works with just the mobile network. Once your mobile phone has a mobile network, it will work just fine.
To use the USSD all you need is to get your mobile phone and dial the appropriate USSD code and press the send button, it will initiate the connection.
The USSD Customized Shortcode
In the past, when trying to acquire USSD service, it was very necessary to wait for the telecom service providers to have this service.
It’s not everyone that offers it, so the service coverage was limited to only subscribers of the service who can make use of it.
Infobip and its connections have made it possible, and today the service has better coverage.
No need for companies to approach individual operators to request the availability of the service and make several contracts.
From a tool, companies can give this kind of service without any limitation.
The APIs connection helps the customization of the menus from the platform without direct dependence on the service provider. Companies are given the privilege to modify menus, titles, and access according to interest.
Just as we have explained, you have seen that USSD has many uses which you may not have come across.
USSD and the Banking Services
In most parts of the world now, banking with USSD is now possible. In those countries where it is not embraced, it is not that the services can not be put in place. It either that their government through the apex bank didn’t approve of it, or the banks were not able to meet the required standard by their apex bank.
The USSD code, when implemented, it can access the bank APIs and help perform and simplify some banking activities.
Some banking activities possible by USSD code,
- Checking of bank balance
- Getting a mini bank statement
- Domestic money transfer
- Payment of bills
- Opening bank account
- Emergency blocking of the account.
- Airtime purchase from your bank.
There are still much more banking services that can be included by the bank, but the focus is based on security. So the little that is added is with consideration.
The Future of USSD Code
Technology should never be underestimated; we all have seen tech done so many things we may never have imagined. USSD still have a brighter future.
I won’t be surprised seeing it integrate into more real-time apps to make life more simple. While we await that, let us have fun with what we already have in place.
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