The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 24th November 2021 has issued a draft Telecommunication Tariff (66th Amendment) Order, 2021 on "Regulatory framework for USSD-based tariff" in which USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)-based mobile banking and payment services tariff have been revised to zero.
TRAI had earlier issued the Telecommunication Tariff (56th Amendment) Order dated 22nd November 2013 prescribing a ceiling tariff of Rs. 1.50 per USSD session for USSD-based mobile banking service. Subsequently, in November 2016, the Authority revised USSD-based tariff ceiling for banking and payment services through the Telecommunication Tariff (61st Amendment) Order, 2016 from Rs. 1.50 to Rs. 0.50 per session.
Previously, on November 22, 2013, TRAI announced the Telecommunication Tariff (56th Amendment) Order, which established a maximum tariff of Rs. 1.50 per USSD session for USSD-based mobile banking services. Following that, by the Telecommunication Tariff (61st Amendment) Order, 2016, the Authority reduced the USSD-based tariff threshold for banking and payment services from Rs. 1.50 to Rs. 0.50 per session.
TRAI has said in its official statement issued on Wednesday that "Following a request from the DFS to the Department of Telecommunications in this regard, the Authority analyzed the issue from various aspects and is of the view that in order to protect the interests of the USSD users and to promote digital financial inclusion, rationalization of USSD charges is required. Accordingly, the Authority proposes to revise the framework for USSD based mobile banking and payment services by prescribing a "Nil" charge per USSD session for mobile banking and payment service, while keeping the remaining items of USSD unchanged."
Press Release No. 52/2021 draft Telecommunication Tariff (66th Amendment) Order, 2021 on ''Regulatory framework for USSD-based tariff''https://t.co/6vCudmqwDc— TRAI (@TRAI) November 24, 2021
The regulator has also said that "With a view to encourage digitalization of payments and enhancing financial inclusion through digitalization, the Reserve Bank of India constituted a High-Level Committee on Deepening of Digital Payments (CDDP), which suggested further rationalization of USSD charges to enable better adoption. The recommendations made by the High-Level Committee on CDDP are supported by the Department of Financial Services (DFS)."
The stakeholders are requested to send their written comments on the same to Shri Amit Sharma, Advisor (Finance & Economic Analysis), TRAI, preferably in electronic form at e-mail id: firstname.lastname@example.org latest by 8th December 2021, TRAI further stated.