Friday, 15 November, 2019

Banks, CBN Disown MTN Over USSD Charges

The Nigerian Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria have disowned MTN on its proposed N4 charges on USSD transactions.

MTN had on Monday announced a N4 charge for every 20 seconds of using USSD bank codes.The telecommunication company claimed it took the decision as requested by the banks.

However, the Body of Bank CEOs said in a statement on Monday that MTN’s claim that banks called for the charges was untrue.

The group said, “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 assessing 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 company 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 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 government 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.”

The CBN also opposed the proposed charges.

Godwin Emefiele, the governor of CBN, made known the position of the apex bank during the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington on Sunday, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

He said, “About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.

“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost.

“What we mean by a sunk cost 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 is an additional investment in infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.

“I have told the 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 the telecom companies to engage.”

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