Banks Disown MTN Over USSD Charges
Commercial banks in Nigeria have disowned claims by MTN Nigeria Communication Plc that they directed it to commence charging customers for USSD transactions.
The body of Nigerian Bank Chief Executive Officers put forward the statement in reaction to plans by MTN to start charging customers for the service.
It will be recalled as earlier reported by Naija News that MTN had sent messages to its customers that with effect from October 21, 2019, N4 will be charged on every 20 seconds spent while using USSD access to banking services.
“Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you,” the message had read.
MTN had claimed the charges were requested by the banks but the government directed that the planned charges be shelved until proper briefs were received.
However, the bank CEOs in a jointly signed statement disowned claims by MTN that they authorized the charges.
“Our attention has been drawn to SMS sent on Saturday 19th October by MTN Nigeria Communications PLC (“MTN”) to customers of banks in Nigeria in respect of the above”, the statement reads.
“The message states that the banks requested MTN to start charging customers for USSD transactions directly. It also asks customers to contact their banks for more information.
“We wish to state as follows: 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.
The statement further added that the banks support low pricing model in the use of USSD access codes while the decision on what is to be charged rests solely with the telecom organizations and regulated by the CBN.
“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.”