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Published On: Tue, Oct 29th, 2019

FG opposes plans by MTN, Airtel, others to charge bank customers on USSD

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By Etuka Sunday

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele and Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Ali Pantami has opposed the current plans by the Mobile Network Provider in the country to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services from Oct. 21.
This came after a viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator MTN Nigeria and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.
“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct. 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info(rmation),’’ the message said.
Emefiele who was quoted to have gave the bank’s position at the sidelines of the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington, said, about five, four months ago, he held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.
“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost. What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.
“But the telecom companies disagreed with us, they said it is an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason they needed to impose it.
“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen. The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.
“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.
“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Communications said, it’s attention has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator MTN Nigeria and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.
The Spokesperson to the Minister of Communications, Uwa Suleiman (Mrs) in a statement said “the office of the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.”

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