Banks/Telcos’ USSD Impasse: MTN adopts Flutterwave, Jumia Pay, others for consumers to access services

*For the benefit of our customers who have been greatly inconvenienced by the service suspension, we now have alternative channels of accessing MTN services electronically ─MTN External Relations Manager

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

As the leading telecommunication firm awaits the final resolution of the lingering N42 billion debt issue between the Nigerian Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other Telcos by the Federal Government, MTN Communications Nigeria has switched its said 77 million strong customers to alternative electronic payment platforms.

It was learnt that the mobile telecom operator made the move barely 24 hours after the country’s DMBs disconnected MTN subscribers from their banking channels, including the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and banking apps to access products and services.

The deadlock between the banks and mobile network provider has left millions of subscribers frustrated, as they are unable to recharge airtime via USSD during the Easter celebrations, according to report.

MTN has 77 million subscribers who make up 45 percent of the total telecommunication market share in Nigeria.

Funso Aina, MTN Senior Manager for External Relations, who disclosed this in a statement noted that their consumers could recharge airtime and carry out other online transactions through payment solutions platforms.

The statement said: “It will interest you to note that for the benefit of our customers who have been greatly inconvenienced by the service suspension, we now have alternative channels of accessing MTN services electronically.”

According to the company, the list of alternative payment solutions platforms to carry out transactions include Flutterwave, Jumia Pay, OPay, Kuda, Momo agent Carbon and BillsnPay.

MTN has advised its customers to recharge airtime by dialling *904# and *606#.

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) March 2021 announced the introduction of new USSD service charges, which include paying a flat rate of N6.98 per transaction.

Likewise, the telecommunication company reportedly reduced the banks’ commission from an average of 3.5 percent to 2.5 percent per transaction, prompting the actions of the banks to disconnect MTN subscribers from its service.

Several other banks in the country had also notified MTN Nigeria of disconnecting its subscribers if the company did not revert to the old commission.

But, when the banks’ appeal failed to sail through, they blocked the telecom firm from their banking channels, leaving consumers stranded and unable to recharge virtually for days.

ConsumerConnect had reported that in a move to resolve the trade dispute between the banks and affected telecom firms, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, a post via his verified Twitter account Friday, April 2 stated that the difficulty was due to fallout between MTN Nigeria and some banks in the country.

The government has intervened in the feud and the situation will soon be resolved, noted the Minister.

Dr. Pantami tweeted: “On the fallout between MTN Nigeria and some banks on USSD services today, I engaged with both regulators, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and EVC Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

“We have reached an advance stage of resolving the issues, for the services to be restored to our citizens. Many thanks!”

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