N42bn debt: Telcos to disconnect banks’ USSD services Monday

Customers of Financial Service Providers may be unable to use the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services from March 15, Checkout Magazine learnt.

This follows an announcement by the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria demanding Financial Service Providers to pay their over N42bn debt or get disconnected from using the USSD service.

The association announced this in a statement signed by ALTON and Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, and Head of Operations, Gbolahan Awonuga and titled ‘Withdrawal of USSD services to financial service providers due to huge indebtedness to telecom network operators’.

ALTON explained that following the issuance of the USSD pricing determination by the Nigerian Communications Commission which resulted in a price review of USSD service by the telcos, the banks decided that they would no longer pay for USSD service delivered to their customers and requested the telcos to charge customers directly for use of the USSD channel.

The telcos complained that the banks, however, provided no assurances that such service fees charged to customers’ bank accounts for access to bank services through the USSD channel would be discontinued post implementation of end-user billing by the telcos.

The statement said, “It has been more than eight months since the NCC issued an updated pricing methodology for USSD services for financial transactions in Nigeria.

“The methodology explicitly restricts Mobile Network Operators from charging the end user for the services and mandates the banking sector to enter into negotiations to settle outstanding obligations and agree on individual pricing mechanisms to be applied going forwards.

“During this time, MNOs have continued to provide access to USSD infrastructure and our members have continued to pay all bank charges and fees to access the banking industries assets and customers, despite the fact that obligations due from banks to telecoms companies for USSD services has reached over N42bn.”

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