A long-established technology called Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) that brought mobile banking to the masses in Africa and Asia is being introduced in the Pacific, and Westpac’s Head of mobile banking Gary Collins said it has the potential to change the face of banking in the region.
Westpac launched an SMS (Short Message Service) banking product in the Pacific last year and is now set to launch USSD mobile banking to all its Pacific customers.
An advantage of USSD is that it’s easy to use, said Collins.
“It doesn’t require any special handset functionality, so customers don’t need expensive java-enabled smartphones or pre-loaded sim-cards to access its benefits.”
He said the technology is able to pass real-time information back and forth between a customer’s mobile phone and the wider network.
“This means it can deliver a range of highly sophisticated services to customers, particularly in the mobile banking space,” said Collins.
“We believe that USSD’s broad accessibility and enhanced capabilities give it the potential to make banking significantly easier for Pacific communities.”
Collins said there is an opportunity for mobile network operators to partner with banks to offer these services to customers.
“USSD is not going away in a hurry - there will be greater and greater interest in this technology as times goes on,” he said. “It follows that strong benefits exist for mobile network operators willing to partner with companies to deliver this technology.”
Westpac operates in seven Pacific countries including the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.