The State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, said it has waived SMS charges on mobile money transfers. Users cannot easily transact at no additional cost using USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) services.
“SMS charges are now waived on mobile money transfers! Users can now easily transact without any additional charges… Just dial *99# and enjoy banking services absolutely free. Especially for phone users versatile,” the public bank said in a tweet on Saturday.
Services that can be used through the Service include: send money, request money, check account balance, get mini-statement and change UPI PIN. “Users can now easily transact at no additional cost using USSD services,” SBI said.
USSD is a technology platform through which information can be transmitted over a GSM network to a basic phone. It is available on all mobile phones with SMS function.
USSD mobile banking can be used for fund transfers, checking account balance, generating bank statements, among other uses. Its objective is to enable the financial inclusion of the economically weaker sections and the underbanked. SBI’s decision will benefit feature phone consumers who make up over 65% of India’s over one billion mobile phone users.
The State Bank of India also said on Saturday evening: “We will undertake technology upgrade in UPI between 23:30 on 17-09-2022 and 02:00 on 18-09-2022. During this period, UPI’s services will not be available.
According to the SBI website, the bank also raised its benchmark prime rate by 70 basis points. The latest rate is now 13.45% and the revised rate comes into effect on September 15 (Thursday). The bank also raised the base rate by similar basis points to 8.7%.
The amount of EMI for borrowers who took out loans at the base rate would increase. These are the old benchmarks on which banks used to disburse loans. Today, most banks lend at the external reference lending rate (EBLR) or the repo-linked lending rate (RLLR).
The bank reviews both the BPLR and the base rate on a quarterly basis. The SBI’s lending rate review is expected to be followed by other banks in the coming days. The increase in benchmark lending rates comes weeks ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) monetary policy meeting, which is expected to raise rates again to tame inflation.
Interest rates in the country are rising as the RBI’s monetary policy committee raised the key repo rate three times in the latest policy reviews. Following this, banks also increased lending and deposit rates. The State Bank of India has also increased its deposit rates and lending rates.
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