Nigeria introduces new USSD charge of N6.98k per transaction
The Nigeria Mobile Network Operators and Deposit Money Banks have resolved protracted disagreements concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions, with a resolution effective from March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at Deposit Money Banks and all Central Bank of Nigeria - licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98k per transaction.
BizTech Africa had reported https://www.biztechafrica.com/article/nigerian-telecoms-withdraw-services-banks-over-uss/16480/ that Nigeria Telecom service providers had scheduled withdrawal of USSD services to banks by March 15th, 2021, in order to press home its demand for payment of N42 billion, but was later tamed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
It was gathered that Banks across Nigeria are indebted to telecoms service providers to the tune of N42 billion for USSD services before the collection of the fees (USSD) were reversed back to them. USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially excluded.
In a joint statement signed by the Nigeria Apex bank, Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwansiobi, and NCC, Director, Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, on Tuesday, a resolution framework was arrived at in a meeting chaired by Nigeria Communications and Digital Economy Minister, to resolve the lingering dispute between parties involved and ensure uninterrupted services to customers on this channel.
USSD resolution framework
According to the framework adopted by MNOs and DMBs was the introduction of a new USSD service charge of N6.98K per transaction for any financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN licensed institutions, effective from March 16, 2021.
The new USSD service charge replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion. This approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.
In promoting transparency in its administration, a decision over who collects the new USSD charges was given to MNOs, who will now collect their charges directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel.
Settlement plan for Outstanding N42billion USSD debt
According to the statement “A settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs, is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.”
“MNOs and DMBs shall discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (APIs) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.
DMBs and MNOs are committed to engaging further on strategies to lower cost and enhance access to financial services. With the above resolutions, the impending suspension of DMBs from the USSD channel is hereby vacated. Therefore, DMBs shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel.”
“The general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions. The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians”, the statement concluded.