Following the outcome of the meeting between the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, the Mobile Network Operators and the financial institutions, it has been unanimously agreed that the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services for financial transactions will now be charged at a flat-rate fee of N6.98 per transaction.
This was signed in a joint statement by CBN’s Head, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi and the NCC Director, Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, on Tuesday.
According to the joint statement signed, the N6.98k per financial transaction conducted at Commercial Banks and all CBN-licensed institutions would replace the current per session billing structure which was N10, thereby ensuring a cheaper average cost for customers to facilitate financial inclusion.
The Mobile Network Operators had earlier threatened to withdraw their USSD services to the Deposit Money Banks due to the latter’s debt of over N42bn.
However, following a closed-door meeting, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Communications Commission has decided to permanently halt the disconnection of DMBs from the USSD channel.
The stakeholders also decided that the new USSD charges would be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts, to promote transparency in its administration.
Regarding the debt owed by the Deposit Money Banks, a settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services previously rendered by the MNOs was being worked out by all the stakeholders to fully resolve the matter.
According to the stakeholders: “MNOs and DMBs shall liaise and agree on the operational modalities for the enactment of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface to enable smooth, unswerving and transparent customer billing.”
Nigeria’s Apex Bank and the Communications Commission promised to involve relevant operators and stakeholders to facilitate cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.
Also, members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives also interfered with the USSD dispute between DMB and telcos.
The interference followed the united adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member, Nicholas Ossai, at the plenary on Tuesday, titled ‘Urgent need to intervene in the impasse of N42bn debt between telecommunication operators and banks & other financial institutions.’
The House of Representatives has urged the MNO’s to stop the planned withdrawal and suspension of the USSD services to the DMB’s and other CBN licensed financial institutions.
The House has also mandated the Telecommunications Committee to communicate with Mobile Network Operators, Nigerian Communications Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions with a view to resolving the impasse.