Idea Money, the digital wallet of Idea Cellular, has enabled a USSD-based platform which will allow merchants and customers to conduct digital payments. The USSD system allows wallet payments to customers who do not have access to a smartphone or internet data.

Idea Money’s USSD feature also allows Pull transactions for merchants allowing them to initiate receipt of payments from customers via their mobile numbers. To make a pull USSD transaction, a merchant will need to:

  • dial *400#
  • select pull payment
  • enter a customer’s Mobile Number (Needs to be an Idea Money wallet-holder)
  • enter the payment amount
  • 4-digit OTP received by the customer is entered in the USSD menu
  • The transaction is completed. The customer wallet is debited and merchant wallet is credited with the payment amount
  • The payment received is then moved to the merchant’s selected bank account on the next day

Note that most wallets charge customers a fee to move money into bank accounts. Idea Cellular has not mentioned how much it will be charging merchants to move money. Though, Idea is due to start its payment bank operations.

Idea Money has been increasing its user base over the past few quarters.  User base increased to 5.012 million in Q2 FY17 showing a growth of 47.1% from the preceding quarter. The transaction count increased 21.6% to 3.32 million from 2.747 million in the previous quarter but the the average transaction value decreased 5.08% to Rs 317 from Rs 334 in the preceding quarter. The total transaction value increased 15.2% q-o-q to Rs 105.5 crore.

Recently, the company launched Idea Money’s Retailer Assisted Model, and has been on-boarding online and offline retailers and merchants across geographies. Idea Money is currently available in 17 circles where the telecom operator is present. Some of its online and merchants include BookMyshow, KFC, Dominos, Yep Me, MakeMyTrip and IRCTC.

Merger talks with Vodafone

Earlier this month, Vodafone Group Plc confirmed that they are in a potential merger deal with Idea Cellular in India.  Vodafone m-Pesa active user base stood at 1.3 million as of Q1FY6. While the number of m-Pesa agents stood at 120,000. It’s total user base stood at 5.4 million. Vodafone has also been trying to increase m-pesa user base. In the last update of My Vodafone app, which lets the telecom company’s subscribers manage their bills, recharges and usage, customers have been forced to create an m-pesa wallet.

Vodafone, like Idea, also has a payments bank licence. Vodafone India is planning to launch its payments bank by March 2017.