Telecom

Nigeria : Operators to suspend USSD services over banks' unpaid US$185.7mln bill

Friday, 30 September 2022 17:24
Nigeria : Operators to suspend USSD services over banks' unpaid US$185.7mln bill

(Ecofin Agency) - A USSD code is a quick code that allows access to some additional services via SMS messages. Banks and other financial service providers use USSD to facilitate access to their services in sub-Saharan Africa, where only 28 percent of the population has access to the Internet (according to the GSMA).

Nigerian banks and financial institutions may soon be denied access to the unstructured supplementary services data (USSD) provided by telecom operators. On September 29, 2022, Gbenga Adebayo, President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), revealed that those actors failed to pay a bill of NGN80 billion (about US$185.7 million) for the services they were rendered. 

Banks deduct charges from their customers but refuse to pay telecom operators. You don’t expect us to keep rendering services when you don’t pay,” he indicated.

In 2021, telecom operators had threatened to stop rendering their USSD services to financial institutions, still over unpaid invoices. The accumulated bill was NGN42 billion at the time. The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) got involved, helping find a compromise solution, including the introduction of NGN6.9 (US$0.016) per transaction as a new fee for customers using USSD services.

If the threat is carried out, it will greatly affect the financial services offered to Nigerians, creating revenue shortfalls for banks. “...Bank customers will not be able to make ATM withdrawals or do transfers as well as other digital banking related services if the telecommunications operators withdraw their services,” Mr. Adebayo said. 

Isaac K. Kassouwi





 
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