The body of bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have denied involvement in the Short Message Service (SMS) by MTN Nigeria to bank customers in Nigeria on the charge of N4:00 per second for the use of USSD transactions.
MTN Nigeria during the weekend sent a SMS to subscribers as requested by banks to start charging customers for USSD transactions directly.
The telecommunication company also asked customers to contact their banks for more information.
MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, said the decision was on the request of the banks and would take effect from Oct. 21.
“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct. 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info(rmation),’’ the message said.
USSD is a communication protocol available on every GSM-enabled mobile device. It is a session based text communication without a store-and-forward mechanism that is for interactive communication such as banking and education sector.
The body of bank CEOs in a statement on Monday said, “That the banks did not ask MTN to start charging customers as contained in the text message.
“The decision on whether, and what amount, to charge a customer for accessing USSD is entirely that of the telco company, in the same way a customer is billed for calls, SMS and data.
“MTN is the only Telco that is yet to implement end-user billing which is the standard practice for customer-initiated transactions.
“This is despite the fact that the banks, working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have engaged MTN over a period of more than one year to try and bring down the cost of USSD to aid financial inclusion.
“That the banks are determined to pursue the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the Federal Government of Nigeria and will continue to advocate that Telcos identify wholeheartedly with this laudable initiative and implement transparent and low pricing model in the use of USSD access codes.
“We wish to re-iterate that financial transaction charges are regulated by the CBN as stipulated in the Bankers Tariff, and that the charges for financial transactions carried out with banks remain unchanged.”
The Minister of Communication, Dr. Isa Pantami, has said that he was not aware of an alleged plan by MTN Nigeria to start charging for Kobo for USSD service.
The Minister said Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) should ensure the operators suspend such plans until full processed is placed.
“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operators notifying charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking service from the 21st of October 2019.
“The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, is unaware of this development and had hereby directed yhe sector regulator, the Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, ensure the operator suspends sch plans until the Honourable Minister is fully properly briefed,” he said.
The CBN also opposed plans by MTN Nigeria, others to charge their subscribers for USSD access to banking services.
The Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday.
Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.
According to him, “About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at CBN’s Lagos office. At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost.
“What we mean by suck coat is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.
“But the telecom companies disagreed with us. They said it was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.
“I have told banks that we will not allow this to happen, the banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and telecom companies to engage.
“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost. And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,” he said.