USSD Push, or NI (Network Initiated) USSD, is the cousin of USSD and is alike in all behaviours bar one: The interactive menu is pushed in real time to the cell phone and “pops up” automatically, without the user having to dial the number.

USSD Push can be delivered in the same way that an SMS can be, but as it allows the user to interact and “browse” the menu by making selections and entering information.

Examples of USSD Push

Let’s start by mentioning that USSD Push cannot, at this time, be used for direct marketing.

This is enforced by the mobile network operators who restrict usage to the Financial Sector for security, transaction and identification type services. For example:

  1. Transaction confirmations
  2. One Time Passwords
  3. Call centre authentication
  4. ATM transactions

ussd-push-screenshot1   ussd-push-screenshot2   ussd-push-screenshot3


As a mobile channel USSD is very familiar to most, if not all South Africans.

We need to remember that 80% of urban and 94% of rural South Africans have prepaid cell phone accounts, and use it to send “please call me” messages and to recharge airtime. For contract holders many use it for internet banking as it offers a faster and more direct way of transacting.

USSD Push Details

  • It is free to the user as the 20c per 20 second cost is reverse billed to the brand.
  • Network time outs range from 2-4 minutes.
  • Characters are limited to 160, just like SMS.
  • USSD Push offers more than SMS, as it allows the recipient to respond immediately to confirm or query transactions.

USSD Push Availability

NI USSD is available on the following Mobile Network Operators in South Africa:

  1. Vodacom
  2. MTN
  3. CellC
  4. Telkom

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