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CBN, Ministry of Communication opposes MTN over USSD baking transaction charge

MTN COMMUNICATIONS PLC

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has opposed the plan by telecommunication firms in Nigeria to charge its subscribers for USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) access banking services.

MTN Nigeria had on Sunday forwarded messages to its subscribes, alerting them of the plan to start charging N4 for USSD banking service. The alert caused uproar on social media which made the Minister of Communication, Dr. Isa Pantami, to order the suspension of the planned N4 charges.

Dr. Pantami had noted that the Ministry of Communication was not aware of the development and consequently ordered a suspension of the plan.

“The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, to ensure the operator suspends such plans until the minister is fully and properly briefed,” the statement from the Communication Ministry reads in part.

Emefiele who spoke on Sunday at the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, noted that the moved by the telecom firm would discourage CBN’s financial inclusion driver.

“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.”

“I appealed to them that they should review it downwards and they refused. I understand that three or four weeks ago, rather than reduce it, they went ahead to increase it by 300 per cent.

“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.”

The apex bank governor further noted that he instructed the commercial banks to move their business to any telecom company that is willing to offer the lowest service rate (if not zero cost).

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