USSD

Top VAS platforms that offer USSD codes in Kenya

There is a wide range of platforms that provide USSD codes in Kenya.

A USSD code is an alphanumeric number of up to 12 digits long that can operate on all networks and is used for mobile-based services between a customer and a business. The term USSD means Unstructured Supplementary Service Data.

Let's go in deep on the USSD codes in this article as follows;

  • How do USSD codes work
  • 5 Top Platforms that offer USSD codes
  • Uses of USSD codes on businesses
  • How to get started with USSD code services
  • USSD payments
  • Conclusion

How do USSD codes work

The term 'USSD' describes any interactive service that operates when the user sends a command via a mobile phone keypad. This shortcode command dialed by users is supposed to be forwarded to the user's USSD application for an immediate response. A typical example is when you dial *121# on your phone to access your bank account balance. 

USSD codes usually run on networks and do not necessarily need to be installed for users to get them to operate. It makes the user's work easier simply because they can dial short-digit codes to find answers to what they are looking for.

All this requires is for the user to enter their SIM card PIN and press the send button on their handset. This activates an SMS-based communication channel between their device and the mobile network operator's gateway server, retrieving information from its database to answer them in real-time.

5 Top platforms that offer USSD codes

There are a wide range of platforms that provide USSD codes in Kenya, such as ;

  1. offers a wide range of services, and USSD is one of them. Hello Duty is integrated with the Africas talking API for USSD so that one can build a USSD menu for their business needs on the platform.
  2. Celcom Africa is a multi-faceted platform that enables one to acquire short codes and USSD code services. The platform helps you build the USSD application to help you communicate with your customers over the phone.
  3. Itouch enables you to create and deploy customizable USSD campaigns and track them accordingly. The codes are meant for standard Kenyan cellular network providers.
  4. Stratech offers USSD services, short codes, and bulk SMS for Kenyan businesses. The company works to provide a network connection to its customers through a mobile-based application.
  5. Glitext solutions is a Kenyan-based USSD service provider that issues USSD codes to Kenyan customers through mobile services applications. They not only attend to Kenyans but also operate in other regions.

Uses of USSD codes on businesses 

  1. Businesses use USSD to communicate with their customers to update and alert them on offers, among other things. They give their customers a short code to dial and keep in touch with them.
  2. Delivery apps such as uber eats use the USSD code to interact with customers who are making orders and for deliveries from their menu. They also include promotion codes and offers for their customers to use.
  3. Some companies use the USSD code to engage with users of their products to get immediate feedback through research and surveys filled out.
  4. Mobile banking apps such as Pesa pap by family bank use USSD codes to provide their customers with services regardless of whether they use a smartphone.

How to get started with USSD code services

Getting a USSD running is as easy as you may think. Start by;

  1. On the phone application, dial * a number, then press #.
  2. Press on the call button and then allow the code to run as you await feedback.
  3. Ensure the USSD code you are running is correct to avoid the "invalid MMI code.
  4. Follow the instructions and proceed as advised based on the services you need.

USSD payments

These are payments made by text. By sending a text using the USSD code, the service provider can receive compensation for what a user wants to purchase from them through an online payment system. 

Conclusion

USSD is the way to go. Research shows that effect transactions in Kenya are primarily achieved through the USSD code. This would be your chance if you are a business person and have yet to consider getting a code. You can also check out our YouTube video that will guide you on how to build your own USSD code for guidance.

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Nancy Njeri
January 8, 2023

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