India's push to provide access to financial services through mobile means took another step forward when Shri P. Chidambaram, India's Finance Minister, recently announced the launch of a National Unified USSD Platform by India's National Payment Corporation.
The NUUP allows the millions of Indians who lack access to physical banking locations use a single SMS texting number to access services across all banks, regardless of wireless service provider, mobile handset maker or region.
"Given that mobile phones have become hugely popular in India, mobile financial services offers a great opportunity for enabling financial services to all Indians at an affordable cost and thus enabling rapid financial inclusion," said Sri A. P. Hota, managing director and CEO of NPCI. "A common platform for all banks instead of each bank having to develop a platform is a strategic move by NPCI to help banks and let them focus on customers to enable this service while NPCI manages the technology behind the platform."
Along with the single platform, NUUP provides a simplified mobile banking process that eliminates the need for customers to download applications, thus opening the service to users of even the most basic feature phones. It also includes access to the Interbank Mobile Payment Service, India's recently created fund transfer platform.
NPCI is an umbrella organization recently created by banks in India to consolidate and integrate the various payment systems into one nationwide, uniform business process for all retail payment systems. Twenty-three financial institutions are already connected to NUUP at its launch.
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