The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced new charges for customers using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data services.
The apex bank said from Tuesday customers will pay a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time they use USSD services.
The charges were part of the agreements after banks and telecommunication operators met on Monday to discuss the N42bn debt owed mobile operators by banks.
A statement on Tuesday and jointly signed by the apex bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi; and Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Ikechukwu Adinde, explained: “We are pleased to announce that after comprehensive deliberations on the key issues, a resolution framework acceptable to all parties was agreed thus:
“Effective Tuesday March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) 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 (Mobile Network Operators) directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for us of the USSD channel.”
The Federal Government last week asked telecommunication operators to put on hold, their impending suspension of USSD services over N42bn debt owed by banks.
Meanwhile the house of representatives has asked telecommunication operators to halt the planned withdrawal of unstructured supplementary service data (USSD).
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) threatened to suspend USSD services over N42 billion debt owed by financial service providers.
However, Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, on Saturday asked ALTON to halt the planned suspension.
The House of Representatives weighed in on the matter on Tuesday after adopting a motion sponsored by Ossai Nicholas Ossai, Delta lawmaker representing Ndokwa/Ukwuani federal constituency.
The lawmaker said the USSD makes it possible for millions of Nigerians who do not have smartphones or internet connections to access financial services.
He decried the lingering disputes between telecommunication operators and banks despite the intervention of the ministry of digital economy.
The lawmaker said: “If the USSD service is withdrawn, Nigerian telecommunication users will fall back and continue with their old traditional modes and channels, such as Mobile bank apps, internet banking, ATM, PoS, that makes banking services uninteresting, inconveniencing, with high cost of financial transactions, which will further put our health in danger as a result of crowding together.”
After the unanimous adoption of the motion, the house asked telecommunication operators to halt the planned action.
The lower legislative chamber also mandated its committee on telecommunications to liaise with telecommunications operators, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and financial institutions to resolve the impasse and report back within six weeks.