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Mobile network operators and banks agree flat fee for USSD services transactions

Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami chaired the meeting to resolve the dispute concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions

By Audrey Lotechukwu

TUE 16 MARCH, 2021-theGBJournal- Following from a meeting chaired by Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) today resolved their protracted disagreements concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions.

Both parties agreed that ‘’effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at deposit money banks (DMBs) and all Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98k per transaction. ‘’

The CBN and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a joint statement after dispute was resolved said, ‘’this new deal 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.’’

USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially excluded. Used for wireless application protocol (WAP) browsing, mobile money services, as well as prepaid callback services, it is a global system for mobile communication (GSM) used to send text messages.

Other agreed issues contained in the dispute resolution framework include:

– To promote transparency in its administration, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel.

-A settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs, is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.

-MNOs and DMBs shall discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (APIs) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.

-DMBs and MNOs are committed to engaging further on strategies to lower cost and enhance access to financial services.

-With the above resolutions, the impending suspension of DMBs from the USSD channel is hereby vacated. Therefore, DMBs shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel.

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