Thursday , December 9 2021

Bank CEOs counter MTN’s claim on USSD charges

The body of the bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) has countered MTN’s claim on the N4 per 20 session Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service charges.

In a statement made available to Business Remarks, the body debunked the claim in the messages sent out on Saturday by the telco.

According to them, the message stipulating the banks has requested MTN to start charging customers for USSD transactions was not from them.

“Our attention has been drawn to SMS sent on Saturday 19th October by MTN Nigeria Communications PLC (“MTN”) to customers of banks in Nigeria in respect of the above.

“The message states that the banks requested MTN to start charging customers for USSD transactions directly. It also asks customers to contact their banks for more information.

“We wish to state as follows:

“That the banks did not ask MTN to start charging customers as contained in the text message. The decision on whether, and what amount, to charge a customer for accessing USSD is entirely that of the telco company, in the same way a customer is billed for calls, SMS and data.

“MTN is the only Telco that is yet to implement end-user billing which is the standard practice for customer-initiated transactions. This is despite the fact that the banks, working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have engaged MTN over a period of more than one year to try and bring down the cost of USSD to aid financial inclusion.

“That the banks are determined to pursue the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the Federal Government of Nigeria and will continue to advocate that Telcos identify wholeheartedly with this laudable initiative and implement transparent and low pricing model in the use of USSD access codes.

“We wish to re-iterate that financial transaction charges are regulated by the CBN as stipulated in the Bankers Tariff, and that the charges for financial transactions carried out with banks remain unchanged”, the bank CEOs stated.

It is to be recall that, Airtel Nigeria has dumped the newly introduced corporate level billing for the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data [USSD] services and reverted to the old end user billing system.

The corporate level billing for the USSD services is meant for the banks to adhere to N4.5 per USSD session of 20 seconds. This amount to about 450% increase in tariff.

ALSO READ: Communications Minister, CBN, MTN disagree over USSD service charge

The body however lamented that the new tariff will frustrate the financial inclusion strides made by the banks where over 20 million Nigerians have been included by building services that run on the USSD.

“Reverse billing gives no visibility on actual sessions used, forces us to pay for failed sessions and leaves us exposed to spurious USSD usage that will increase cost,” they said in a statement.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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