The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reacted to the recent announcement by MTN Nigeria to start charging four naira (N4:00) per 20 seconds on USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service) access to banking services from October 21.
During a media briefing on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund holding in Washington DC, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele strongly opposed this action as he said that such a move would kick against the CBN’s financial inclusion drive.
“About five months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria and the issue of USSD came up.
“At that time, we came to the conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost, which is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom companies. But the telecoms companies disagreed with us and said it is an additional investment and they needed to impose it,” he said.
Emefiele made known that he had appealed to the telcos on the need for the charge to be reviewed and reduced but instead, they had gone ahead to increase it by 300%.
“I opposed it and I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen; the banks gave this business to the telecoms companies, and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage,” he added.
Speaking further, the CBN said that if push comes to shove, he had instructed the banks that they should do business with only telcom companies that are ready to charge the lowest service rate for the service if not zero cost.
The Ministry of Communicationsas Nairametrics reported has issued a statement directing the Nigerian Communications Commission to ensure that the telcom operators suspend plans on purposing a new policy until the ministry is properly briefed as it is currently not aware of such development.