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Airtel adds local language support on its *121# USSD service

Airtel subscribers can now view its USSD-based customer care portal (*121#) in Hindi and 10 more regional languages – Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bangla, Oriya and Assamese. The USSD service will provide basic information like balance amount/recharge validity/ details of last few transactions etc. to users on demand by dialing *121#.

Users can also browse through recharge packs and activate/deactivate value added services via the USSD service. The facility is available free of cost and does not require a data connection, Airtel said in a statement. However, the smartphone or feature phone will need to have regional language support within its OS to view the USSD in multiple languages. When we checked the *121# service, it was accessible on an LYF Flame smartphone.

Note that there has been an upsurge in the number if USSD based services by telcos after demonetization. Prior to demonetization in August 2016, TRAI mooted the idea of providing payments services via USSD codes. TRAI then lowered the ceiling tariff for outgoing USSD based “mobile banking and payment services”, that is, those USSD transactions which have been initiated by the user, to Rs 0.50 per session. Telcos like Airtel and Idea currently provide USSD based platform for online payments.

Apart from USSD services, several other products and platforms have been adding Indic language support recently. As Internet penetration grows and new users get added, it is beneficial to users when their app/service is available in their local languages.In fact, realising the importance of this, tech giants like Google, Amazon, are coming up with Indic language features. Local tech companies like Indus OS, BSNL and MobiKwik are also adopting Indic languages.

Recent developments in Indic Languages here

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