In a move to push digital payments, PM Narendra Modi launched the ‘BHIM’ app yesterday. It is a simple, clutter-free and easy to use UPI app to send and receive money from a bank account linked to your mobile number. Until now, you required an Android smartphone to make UPI-based transactions. For making payments without internet, say from a feature phone, there is USSD-based mobile banking. Now, along with the ‘BHIM’ app, the USSD platform has also been upgraded with UPI integration.
In order to make UPI payments offline, you’ll first need to download the BHIM app on your smartphone and complete the registration process. Once the SIM card and smartphone binding is done with your bank account, you can use the BHIM app to make UPI transactions, and when internet isn’t available, you can use USSD-based mobile banking. Now let’s take a look at what all you can do with the new USSD platform.
Upon dialing *99#, you have the welcome screen with seven options – send money, request money, check balance, my profile, pending requests, transactions and UPI PIN. Upon choosing the send money option – you can send money to the recipient by either entering their mobile number, Virtual Payment Address (VPA), choose from already saved beneficiaries, using IFSC code and account number, or via MMID and mobile number. ALSO READ: PM Narendra Modi launches BHIM app for mobile payments; here’s how it works
However, it seems like you can only send money to BHIM app VPAs. I tried sending money to ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank VPAs, but it didn’t go through. However, when I transferred money to my colleague’s UPI VPA, the process was quite smooth. The process is simple, in the home menu, select option ‘1’ to send money, then select ‘2’ to enter payment address, followed by entering the recipient’s payment address.
After entering the payment address, it will fetch the recipient details and show his / her name. Enter the amount you want to transfer (minimum Re 1 and maximum Rs 20,000), followed by entering 4-digit UPI PIN in the next step, and hit send. Once the money is sent, it will ask you to either save the recipient for further reference or exit.
Next option lets you request money. Select ‘2’ from the homescreen, then enter the VPA, followed by the amount in the next screen. This will send a collect money notification to the recipient. The option ‘3’ lets you check the balance of your linked bank account. You will be asked to enter the 4-digit UPI PIN and after verification, the account balance will be displayed on the screen.
The fourth option is where you can check your profile details. Here, you can change your bank account, select a different language (English or Hindi) and view your details. There is also an option to change your payment address. By default, it is your ‘phonenumber@UPI’ but if you want a customized one with ‘yourname@UPI’ you can get that too.
To change your bank account, select ‘1’ then enter first three letters of the bank (ICI for ICICI bank, HDF for HDFC bank, and so on) or first four letters of the IFSC code (ICIC for ICICI bank, CNRB for Canara Bank, SBIN for State Bank of India), and do on. It will then show you the linked account number, enter the number to select one as your default account.
The last three options let you see if there are any pending ‘collect money’ requests, past transactions or set or reset UPI PIN, or change your existing UPI PIN. I have used the USSD-based mobile banking before, and the major issue I had was with the platform inconsistencies. If you didn’t reply within five seconds, the process would get cancelled and you would have to start all over again. However, the new platform seems pretty stable and I could get the required information or make transactions in one go.
If I had to nitpick anything, it would be option of not being able to send money to other bank VPAs. It seems like the government is restricting you to specifically use its platform for all funds transfers.