Cashless Policy: FG Speaks On MTN's USSD Charges
Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Isa Pantami (image courtesy: Ministry of Communications)

Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami, has ordered the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to halt the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) transaction charge imposed by MTN Nigeria.

Concise News had reported that MTN Nigeria had over the weekend sent messages to its subscribers in the country that it would be charging N4.00 per USSD used for banking service.

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

“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 information),’’ the message read.

But Pantami, in a statement, faulted the move, saying he has not been thoroughly briefed about the matter.

He noted that “with the prevailing high cost of data in Nigeria, the citizens still do not enjoy value for money as subscribers’ battle daily with illegal deduction of data, poor Quality of Service (QoS), among others.”

CBN Faults Move

Also, the 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.

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 (sic) 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.”