Nigerian consumers react over N6.98K per USSD transaction session

*Nigerian consumers of financial products and services and USSD users took to the social media platforms Friday, June 4 to express their displeasure over the fresh transaction charges

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the regulatory authorities’ decision earlier March 2021 to charge users, several Nigerian consumers of USSD services have started to receive a notice to pay N6.98K per transaction.

ConsumerConnect reports USSD is an essential channel for delivering financial services, especially to those who do not have access to physical banking infrastructure or Internet services.

One of the notices said: “Welcome to USSD Banking.

“Please note, a N6.98 network charge will be applied to your account for banking services on this channel.”

It is recalled the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reached the decision to charge the USSD channel users in the country March this year.

The decision reportedly was part of an agreement reached with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), following a disagreement between the banks and telecom firms over USSD and other text message transaction requests.

The CBN and NCC in a joint statement in March had said: “Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) and all CBN-licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction.”

The charge is expected to be withdrawn from users’ bank accounts and remitted to mobile network operators, who provide infrastructure for the service to operate.

However, in view of the implementation of the agreement Friday, several Nigerians took to Twitter early in the day to express their disappointment over the fresh USSD transaction charges.

Channels TV quoted a Twitter user to reacted, stating that “things are really getting harder in this country a whole N6.98 approximately N7.00 to use #USSD.”

Another consumer @JimolWest, said: “Do they realise that people who mostly use #USSD can’t afford Internet-enabled devices talk more of data. Now, you’re charging 7 Naira.”

But both CBN and NCC in the joint statement had clarified 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 all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.”

Still report indicates there are concerns about how the new charge will affect financial inclusion, particularly for people who do not have access to Internet services.

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