Despite the explosive growth of mobile across the continent, only 25% of Africans have access to the internet according to recent research from the United Nations telecommunications agency (International Telecommunication Union). Mobile technology has been leading transformation across Africa and has been the critical driver of financial inclusion across the continent. However, it is clear that smart phones and internet access have largely not been as pivotal to this widespread success to date as these technologies have been in the developed world. Instead, Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) technology has played an instrumental part in Africa’s digital transformation.

The core benefit of USSD is that it doesn’t rely on a data connection to operate, thereby helping reach the billions of people in areas where network coverage is at its most basic or for sectors of the population for whom a data connection is too expensive to access. USSD is used extensively across Africa to enable mobile banking and mobile payments. While USSD’s ubiquitous reach makes it an ideal technology for payments and banking in developing markets, another key benefit of the technology is security. The technology creates a safe and instant way to verify customer details and allow access to their accounts. Unlike SMS and mobile apps, USSD notifications and menus are not stored on the device, making it safer for transmitting passwords or other sensitive information.

Without widespread data coverage in Africa and the technological hardware to advance the way users communicate and manage money, there is exponential potential for USSD technology to help drive economic development. This Day’s recent article discusses the prospect of the technology for banking in Nigeria, where Myriad Connect’s GM, Fabien Delanaud, speaks about the benefits of USSD.

Read the full article here.