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Why Your Bank’s USSD Code is not Working


Many Nigerians woke up on Saturday morning only to discover that they cannot access their bank’s services via USSD services as usual. If you are one of those who can’t access your bank’s USSD service, it may be because your bank is one of the banks that have been cut off due to the over N120 billion banks owe Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have been owing telcos for many years now. Despite several interventions by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the issue is yet to be resolved.

In 2021, when the telcos under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) moved to disconnect banks from USSD services, the NCC prevented them from doing so. The NCC cited the disruption it would cause to the administration’s digital and financial inclusion policy. The telcos had no other option than to back down. The debt stood at about N42 billion at that time.

It’s been two years since the FG’s intervention, and the matter has resurfaced again, only this time, the NCC has approved that the telcos can disconnect the banks. The Minister gave this mandate on Friday, 12 May, and the telcos moved in swiftly (like Palmpay agents), but one can hardly blame them. They have been incurring costs and developing the USSD channels for the banks without receiving payment.

The funny thing about this debt is that it should not even exist in the first place because the banks charge customers for USSD services. Hardly a day goes by on social media that you do not see people complaining about USSD charges from banks and sharing receipts of those charges. It is time to ask the banks what they have been doing with these charges.

Right now, customers can explore alternatives to USSD channels. They can resort to bank apps, mobile money agents, and platforms provided by Payment Service Banks. This disconnection may be the incentive that banks need to pay up.

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