New Delhi–The Indian telecom sector has received foreign direct investment (FDI) of $10 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal, Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak said here on Wednesday.

“The telecom sector reforms have got a resounding acknowledgement. The FDI which was $1.3 billion in 2014-15, $2.9 billion in 2015-16 has jumped up to more than $10 billion in the first eight months of 2016-17,” Deepak said.

He was addressing the 12th National Summit e-Governance and Digital India organised by Assocham.

Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak
Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak

Talking about Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)-based mobile banking transactions, Deepak said: “There is not only a need to popularise USSD, but there is a need to simplify it. We need to work on a push USSD rather than a pull USSD.”

The USSD service is used by people using feature phones to check the balance in their bank accounts and transfer money.

At a time when the country is undergoing a demonetisation drive of higher denomination Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, every day more and more people are logging into online payment modes and online banking transactions.

“The merchants should be able to push in a message to feature phone users wherein you just have to okay it for a transaction and goes back to the banks. The burden of enabling IFSC (Indian Financial System Code) and other should move from the payers to the recipient,” the secretary added.

The sectoral regulator — Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) – has recently lowered the USSD tariff to a maximum of 50 paise per transaction, from the earlier rate of Rs 1.50 per session.

He also said 97 per cent of the population in India is on 2G and 68 per cent on 3G telephony. (IANS)