CBN, Banks disown MTN N4 bank USSD codes charge

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed plans by MTN to apply the USSD charge to it’s customers.

The  governor of the Apex bank, Godwin Emefiele made this  known  that the position of CBN during the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington on Sunday.

Recall that MTN Nigeria on Sunday announced a N4 charge for every 20 seconds of using USSD bank codes, claiming it took the decision as requested by the banks.

“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 company said in a text message.

However, the Body of Bank CEOs said in a statement on Monday that MTN’s claim that banks called for the charges was untrue.

The group said, “The banks did not ask MTN to start charging customers as contained in the text message.

It said, “MTN is the only company 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 group said, “The decision on whether and what amount to charge a customer for assessing USSD is entirely that of the telco company, in the same way a customer is billed for calls, SMS and data.

He said, “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.

“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.

The banks’ executives, in the latest statement, said charges for financial transactions remain unchanged.

“That the banks are determined to pursue the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the government 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,” the statement said.

Also, the Ministry of Communications said on Sunday, “The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.”


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