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Telcos Threaten to Cut Off USSD Services over Banks’ N80Bn Debt

Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has said that it might be forced to stop Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services because banks have failed to pay for services rendered.

The debt has now risen to N80 billion from N42 billion earlier this year, said Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON, during an ICT growth conference on Thursday in Lagos.

Adebayo noted that in spite of the government’s intervention in the matter, many banks were not cooperating as regards paying their debt.

“Some banks are responding while others are not. We are nearing that time when we have no choice but to discontinue the provision of services to banks.

“I think it is dishonourable that our colleagues in that sector know that they have an obligation to service providers and are shying away from it.

“Banks deduct charges from their customers but refuse to pay telecom operators. You don’t expect us to keep rendering services, when you don’t pay,” the ALTON president said.

He added that the irony of the situation was that if it was the other way round, you could not owe the bank a cent.

The telecommunication operators had threatened to withdraw their USSD services to financial institutions from March 15, 2021 due to the N42 billion accumulated debt.

However, following intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), the planned action was shelved.

Both parties (the telcos and the banks) went into a meeting with the federal government representatives.

As a fallout of the meeting, the CBN and NCC announced the introduction of N6.98 per transaction as new charges for customers using the USSD services with effect from March 16, 2021.

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