CBN and NCC on USSD Services Photo: InsideBusiness

CBN, NCC announce banks’ customers to pay N6.98k per USSD transaction

*The Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian Communications Commission announce the impending suspension of the Deposit Money Banks from the USSD channel is vacated, and the DMBs shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In an effort at resolving the lingering dispute between the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), while ensuring uninterrupted services to consumers on the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channel in Nigeria, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy March 15, 2021, chaired a meeting of key stakeholders.

Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, Acting Director of Corporate Communications at CBN, and Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs, disclosed this in a joint statement in Abuja, FCT, and made available to ConsumerConnect Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

The statement noted the goal of the consultation was to discuss an amicable resolution in the interest of the general public.

USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially excluded.

It is recalled the Mobile Network Operators and Deposit Money Banks have had protracted disagreements concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions in the country.

This development resulted in the accumulation of outstanding fees for USSD services rendered leading to threat of service withdrawal by the MNOs.

However, in a way to resolve the lingering dispute and ensure uninterrupted services to customers on this channel, Dr. Pantami chaired a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss an amicable resolution in the interest of Nigerians.

The statement said various MNOs, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), DMBs (represented by the Chairman, Body of Bank CEOs) and the sector regulators, including the CBN and NCC attended the meeting.

The two industry regulators, therefore, stated they “are pleased to announce that after comprehensive deliberations on the key issues, a resolution framework acceptable to all parties” was agreed thus:

  1. Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN-licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98k per transaction. This replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion.

This approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.

  1. To promote transparency in its administration, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel.
  2. A settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs, is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.
  3. MNOs and DMBs shall discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (APIs) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.
  4. DMBs and MNOs are committed to engaging further on strategies to lower cost and enhance access to financial services.
  5. With the above resolutions, the impending suspension of DMBs from the USSD channel is hereby vacated. Therefore, DMBs shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel.

The statement also noted that the general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels, such as mobile apps, Internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions.

“The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians,” it added.

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