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Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) recently introduced the USSD money transfer service. The product is designed to allow its customers make third party funds transfer using USSD codes on their mobile devices.

With the USSD code; *737*, GTBank customers can transfer funds to another GTBank account or to a beneficiary in another bank.

But that’s not all there is to it. Here is all you need to know about that.

The fundamentals; what it is and how it works.

USSD codes, unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) is a communication protocol available on GSM cellular networks to relay messages to the service provider’s computers.

The USSD does not need the internet to work.

The product allows transfer to other banks aside GTBank. To initiate transfer to a GTBank account, a sender will dial *737*1*Amount*NUBAN Account No (10 digit account number)# and for transfers to a recipient with another bank, the sender will dial *737*2*Amount*NUBAN Account No (10 digit account number). The transaction will then be authenticated with the last four digits of their GTBank Naira MasterCard.

What does this mean?

It means you, for instance, can transfer funds from your GTBank account to another GTBank account or an account in another bank without having to download a mobile payment app or connect to the internet. It also means stores can begin to receive payments straight into their bank accounts, obviating the need to get POS terminals, or it could just allow stores use their POS terminals less.

What are the limits of USSD transaction?

The GTBansk USSD fund transfer channel only allows transaction between NGN 1, 000 and NGN 20,000 daily. Transaction can only be done using the mobile number registered to the user’s GTBank account.

How many banks does it really support?

Read, how many banks can you really make transfers to via the service?

As at the time of this writing, the service only allows transfers to five other banks outside GTBank; First Bank of Nigeria, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Development Bank of Nigeria and United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Does the USSD service  have authentication protocols?

The only requirement for authenticating a transfer using the USSD code is the last four digits on a sender’s debit card. No PINs no CCVs, and while this might raise security concerns, it helps to know that transfers can only be made on a phone number registered with the bank. So, you be careful of your whimsy nephew and not the random guy in the mart.

Do we like it?

It’s easy to use. Just by punching a USSD code, then the dial button, the transaction is sealed. The only cost is the transfer charge of NGN 20 per transfer.

Isn’t this like mobile money?

In the very strict sense, it is not mobile money, in that users cannot pay bills directly to integrated portals using the USSD code.  A PHCN portal for instance or the Lagos State water board. But then, it’s the closest Nigeria has come to the mobile money gold standard of M-Pesa in Kenya.

What else is GTBank trying to sell us via USSD?

The one-click top up; GTBank introduced a medium for customers to buy airtime on their phones from their account using the *737*Amount#. As a matter of fact, GTBanks is building on success recorded with the service. A PlaySpread analysis of the Nigerian banking industry in 2014 says the offering was the fastest rising product within the period of the review.

GTBank also recently partnered with Etisalat Nigeria to launch GTEasySavers, a service that allows Etisalat customers open a zero bank account by dialing *737*0# on their phone and follow prompt response. The user will receive its 10 digit NUBAN account number afterwards.

Photo Credit: Jared Cherup via Compfight cc

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