USSD Transactions: CBN Reacts To MTN's Planned Charges
President Buhari discusses with Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele during the 4th Presidential Task Force meeting of ECOWAS on common currency for member states (file photo: State House)

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has opposed plans by MTN to charge subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services from October 21.

MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was on the request of banks and would take effect from Monday.

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“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 read.

But the CBN chief, who reacted to the issue during a news briefing after the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, said that the apex bank would not allow that to happen.

“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,” Emefiele said on Sunday.

“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 on 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.

“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.”