Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have agreed on a new pricing regime of N6.98k for every Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) transaction.
This was disclosed in a joint statement signed by Osita Nwanisobi, Head, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) & Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Tuesday, in Lagos.
It would be recalled that 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.
The statement stated that, USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially excluded.
It noted that to resolve the lingering dispute and ensure uninterrupted services to customers on this channel, the 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.
It was agreed that effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN – licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction. This replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion, IT News Nigeria learned.
The statement said: “Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN – licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction.
“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 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 (API) 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.
“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”.