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Telcos issue banks USSD disconnection notice over debt

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'Banks owe us N200bn,' Telcos threaten to withdraw USSD service

Telecommunication companies have issued Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) disconnection notice amid a disagreement over Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service debt running to over N120bn.

Telcos say banks owe them N120bn for using their USSD infrastructure for financial services.

The telcos, including MTN, Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile, have stated their firm intention to disconnect bank customers from accessing bank services through USSD short codes.

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The notice of disconnection came after the Nigerian Communications Commission granted telcos the approval to disconnect the banks after efforts of stakeholders, led by the former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, the NCC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and MNOs and DMBs, failed to yield results.

The telcos said, “It is pertinent to note that the contract between MNOs and DMBs on the use of USSDs for banking transactions is strictly commercial and MNOs are at liberty to withdraw the services if it is established that the transaction is unprofitable to them.”

Since 2019, banks and telcos have been at loggerheads over who should pay for USSD services. As of 2019, telcos stated that banks were owing them N32bn for using USSD to offer financial services. Since then, threats have been made, and on one occasion the Federal Government had to step in after telcos disconnected banks’ USSD access.

USSD remains the primary financial infrastructure for many Nigerians, especially those without smartphones (according to Alliance for Affordable Internet, only about forty-four per cent of Nigerians have access to smartphones).

 

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