BY EMEKA EJERE
As part of efforts to end a lingering crisis between the telecommunication companies and financial service providers over a N42bn debt from the use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has imposed ₦6.98 service charge on Nigerians for all USSD transactions.
Customers will pay a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time they use USSD services from March 16, a statement jointly signed by the apex bank and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said.
The deal was part of an agreement reached with banks following a disagreement between banks and telecom firms over USSD and other text message transaction requests.
“Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) and all CBN-licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction,” the statement partly read.
“This replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion. This approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.
“To promote transparency in its administration, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel.”
The charges, the CBN noted, were part of the agreements after banks and telecommunication operators met on Monday to discuss the ₦42bn debt owed mobile operators by banks.
The Federal Government had last week asked telecommunication operators to put on hold, their impending suspension of USSD services over the debt owed by banks.
This comes amid an increase in Nigeria’s unemployment rate from 27.1% to 33.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020.
In a report released on Monday, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the figure is 6.1% higher when compared to the 27.1% recorded in the second quarter last year.
“The number of persons in the economically active or working-age population (15 – 64 years of age) during the reference period of the survey, Q4, 2020 was 122,049,400. This is 4.3% higher than the figure recorded In Q2, 2020, which was 116.871, 186, ” NBS said.