Banks Owe Telecoms N50 Billion As The New USSD Pricing Regime Takes Effect

by Dio Dorcas

Nigerian banks have announced that they would begin deducting a fixed cost of N6.58 for every financial transaction performed on all Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) banking systems.

Despite the fragile peace between Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and telecommunications operators over the use and non-payment of charges as appropriate on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), mobile network operators (MNOs) have said the unpaid debt owed them by the banks has increased to N50 billion.

The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) told The Guardian over the weekend that since the situation became public, the sum has risen from N42 billion to N45 billion around April and is now hovering between N47 billion and N50 billion.

The telecommunication organization stated that it believes the DMBs would do what is needed and proper by paying off the obligations as quickly as feasible. The USSD is reported to account for around 30% of DMB profits.

The telcos had planned to formally disconnect the banks from the USSD platform on June 10 after numerous appeals to the banking community for prompt or gradual repayment of the debt, an industry source said, “but the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervened, and there was a matching order on the banks to act as appropriate.”

They were also ordered to commence the new N6.98k USSD fee regime. The new USSD fee went into effect on June 1st. Banks have already informed their thronging clients of the new USSD price and payment options.

“Please be aware that you are now obliged to pay a charge of N6.98 to your Mobile Network Operator for every financial transaction carried out on all USSD banking platforms,” states a message sent to First Bank of Nigeria clients over the weekend.

Checks revealed that Access Bank’s statement on the USSD development followed First Bank’s lead, but it also reminded its clients that they may utilize other channels such as mobile banking, web banking, and WhatsApp banking.

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