Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)

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Unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) is a communications service controlled by mobile network operators, which provides financial services via mobile phones at a low cost.

During a dialling session, USSD messages create a real-time connection that stays open and allows for the two-way exchange of data. USSD codes are more instantaneous than short message service (SMS) messages, for example, which exchange short text messages.

What is a USSD code?

USSD codes are messages that can go up to 182 alphanumeric characters long and use two functions: the asterisk (*) and the hash symbol (#).

When you dial a USSD code, you will begin by dialling an asterisk (*), which is followed by commands or by data (such as a bank account number). The command terminates when you dial a hash symbol (#).

What does USSD code running mean?

When you run many USSD codes together, you can instantly give complex commands to your bank. For example, let's say you have a Nigerian bank account with First Bank and you want to transfer money to your Kuda Bank account.

To make a transfer, you can dial First Bank's mobile USSD code, and listen to the prompts to complete your desired command:

  • *894

To save time, you can type a longer USSD code with the proper information and dial it. In this case, you can dial the following and listen to the remaining prompts on your phone to complete the command:

  • *894*amount*kuda account number#

USSD banking

USSD banking is helping to enhance financial inclusion around the world. Thanks to USSD codes, digital banking and financial services are becoming accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. Banks can partner with mobile network operators to even help individuals open up bank accounts directly from their phones.

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