Mention the word USSD and you can expect a blank face.

But show someone the funny looking *120* or *134* number and a look of familiarity will appear followed by a response such as “Mobile banking!” or “Airtime recharging!”


USSD – The App for Africa

The story is simple: In South Africa – where almost half of cell phone users can only use USSD, SMS and voice – USSD has exploded as a trusted mobile marketing channel through its simple and robust menu system. Great examples of USSD services that we all use are sending “please call me” messages, recharging airtime and mobile banking.

USSD services have gained further traction as a proven problem solver for B2B and B2C channels.

USSD services   USSD services   USSD services


Use Cases

  1. Brand Competitions
  2. Airtime & Data Competitions
  3. Proof of Purchase Campaigns
  4. Surveys


How does USSD work?

USSD has the unique advantage of offering a simple browsing experience through a menu system – and it works on all handsets and all cellular networks. USSD services can also be reverse billed – meaning that access can be free for the consumer!

USSD has a distinct advantage over SMS as it is cheaper for the consumer and offers a “session” based interaction similar to browsing a Mobi site.

No internet connection is required and no App needs to be installed.

Try our  USSD demo service now: *120*716#

quotesWe call USSD “Mobi for the Masses” as anyone with a mobile phone can access information and participate.


USSD Number Ranges

USSD comes in 3 number ranges:

  • *120*  Cost to the consumer 20c for every 20 seconds.
  • *130*  Free to the consumer, but only for airtime charging.
  • *134*  Free to the consumer, with the 20c for every 20 seconds reverse billed to the brand.


Technical Details

  1. Costs: R0.20 per 20 seconds which can be reverse billed to the brand or charged to the consumer.
  2. Network time outs range from 3-5 minutes.
  3. Characters are limited to 160, just like SMS.
  4. It works best with quantitative feedback, for example a Likert scale, where the user just has to punch in a number as a selection. Words and sentences are accepted as user input, but this can be challenging to users.