CBN begins dialogue with industry stakeholders over USSD charges

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that it is in talks with telecommunications companies (telcos) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for new Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) charges.

The disclosure was made by Samuel Okojere, CBN’s Director of Payment System Management while speaking at the 2019 Mobile Money Conference organized by the Association of Licensed Mobile Payment Operators (ALMPO) as reported by Vanguard.

Okojere, who was represented by Aisha Isa-Olatinwo, Assistant Director Payment System Department, CBN, while speaking on the role of regulators in accelerating mobile money adoption in Nigeria said,

“Engagement with the NCC is still ongoing to find a new conducive pricing regime for USSD services in the Industry. 

“..notwithstanding the progress made in Mobile Money adoption we have a lot of ground to cover up in Nigeria as a whole. The last survey by EfiNa showed that the level of exclusion is still far from the national target. Our challenge is more pronounced in the part of the country with insurgency and other skirmishes. 

“Furthermore, it is necessary that we improve the agent’s footprints across the country to bring the services closer to the excluded. This represents the opportunity for mobile money operators to make their operations counts in a quest to have a highly inclusive financial system in Nigeria.”

The uproar over USSD charges started on the 20th October 2019 when MTN subscribers received a message from MTN. The message read: “Yello, as requested by your bank, from October 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info.” 

Shortly after, another Yello message was sent to inform Nigerians about the N4.00K charge on every 20 seconds session access to USSD banking services.

After so much back and forth talks on who was to be blamed for the charges between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), telcos, and banks, the NCC suspended the end-user billing for financial transactions by telcos through USSD channel.

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