USSD stands for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data - Unstructured supplemental service data, sometimes referred to as "snippet" or "feature code". It is basically a messaging protocol, similar to SMS (Short Message Service) that people use every day to send and receive messages. Like SMS, USSD was a product that was born before the smartphone era, when phones needed a way to interact with each other without today's super modern applications. Here's what you need to know about USSD.
What is USSD?
USSD is a communication protocol that uses codes generated by existing characters on the phone. USSD messages can contain up to 182 characters and create a conversation between the phone and another device, usually a network or server.
What can the USSD do?
The USSD creates a line for communication and data submission. It can only send messages when the connection is established, so it's not really similar to how SMS works either.
All USSD connections are more or less started in the same way. You send a message to the code. This code is a combination of numbers and special symbols. The carrier you are using will use that code to get you to the right service. When establishing contact with the service, you will have access to the information, data, updates and simple applications it services provide.
How is USSD used?
USSD is commonly used by prepaid phones. When you purchase one of these devices, you can send a message to this code to check your balance. Carriers use the same connection to provide actual updates.
Then there will be applications built via USSD, press a USSD code to return to the menu. You can use that menu to do everything from prepay renewal to requesting information, even paying for services.
The USSD has banking-related applications. It's fast, light, and ideal for performing tasks like checking balances and transferring money. Sending messages via USSD is much faster than mobile banking applications, especially it can operate without mobile data.