The government, in collaboration with telecom and IT industry, has launched a toll-free helpline – 14444 – to address consumer queries on digital payments.
The helpline will address questions regarding various platforms, including the newly-launched Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), eWallets, Aadhaar-enabled payment system and USSD. “The helpline ‘14444’ is available in North as well as Eastern part of the country in English and Hindi and will soon be extended pan India, and in other languages,” Telecom Secretary J S Deepak said.
The helpline has been launched jointly by Department of Telecom in collaboration with software association Nasscom, telecom industry as well as the IT industry, officials said. All telecom companies are participating in the initiative and the helpline will be available to subscribers of all operators.
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The cost of the project is initially being borne by the industry. After a few weeks, the government is likely to take a decision on financial support for the initiative after taking into account the emerging call traffic patterns. For now, the bandwidth is being provided by private sector telecom companies and call centre infrastructure is being provided by the IT-BPO industry, sources said.
The helpline is aimed at consumers who want to start using USSD, UPI, BHIM, or any digital payment platform and need assistance to do so, or have certain queries. Such consumers can call up the helpline, which is an interactive voice response system, and in case of specific queries, can also choose to speak to an agent.
Digital payment channels like mobile wallets, USSD and RuPay have seen massive uptake and rise in transactions after demonetisation was announced on November 8. According to government data, the number of USSD transactions saw a whopping 5,135 per cent jump, from 97 such deals a day on November 8 to 5,078 on December 25.
The value of transactions on USSD — mobile short code message used mainly for banking services on feature phone – during the same period grew 4,061 per cent from Rs 1 crore a day to Rs 46 crore on December 25. UPI transactions — which allows users to transfer funds from one bank account to another using a smartphone — grew 1,342 per cent, from 3,721 such transactions a day on November 8 to 53,648 on December 25. In value terms, it grew 647 per cent, from Rs 1.93 crore a day to Rs 14 crore.
On December 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an indigenous digital payments app BHIM for fast and secure cashless transactions using mobiles. BHIM is a payment platform designed to make UPI and USSD payment modes simpler and usable across feature phones and smart phones.