Tuesday, March 16, 2021 / 05:20 PM / by CBN / Header Image Credit: NCC
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and
Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have had protracted disagreements concerning the
appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions. This resulted in the
accumulation of outstanding fees for USSD services rendered leading to
potential service withdrawal by the MNOs.
USSD is a critical channel for
delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially
excluded. To resolve the lingering dispute and ensure uninterrupted services to
customers on this channel, the Honorable Minister for Communications and
Digital Economy on March 15, 2021 chaired a meeting of key stakeholders to
discuss an amicable resolution in the interest of the general public.
Represented at the meeting were the various MNOs, Association of Licensed
Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Association of Telecommunications Companies
of Nigeria (ATCON), DMBs (represented by the Chairman, Body of Bank CEQs) and the
sector regulators - Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission
We are pleased to announce that
after comprehensive deliberations on the key Issues, a resolution framework
acceptable to all parties was agreed thus:
- Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for
financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN - licensed institutions
will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction. This 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.
- To promote transparency in its administration,
the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from
customers' bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on
customers for use of the USSD channel.
- 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 (API) 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 all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless
access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.
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