The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a joint statement have announced the introduction of new transaction charges for customers using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services.
According to a media article by NCC, the new transaction charges will be a flat fee of N6.98k per transaction effective March 16, 2021. 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.
Over the last few days, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have had protracted disagreements concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions. This resulted in the accumulation of outstanding fees for USSD services rendered leading to threat of service withdrawal by the MNOs.
USSD services is an important channel to deliver mobile financial services to low-income customers. To resolve the lingering dispute and ensure uninterrupted services to customers on this channel, the Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy on March 15, 2021 chaired a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss an amicable resolution in the interest of the general public.
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
The new USSD service charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. With the above resolutions, DMBs shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel.
In conclusion, the joint statement quoted that “The general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions. The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.”