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CBN introduces new charges for USSD services

THE Central Bank of Nigeria has introduced new charges for customers using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data services.

This is following the meeting convened by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, between  financial institutions and mobile network operators yesterday.

The meeting memorable was held to discuss the N42bn debt banks owed mobile operators in the country.Announcing the resolutions of the meeting apex bank said effective Tuesday, customers will pay a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time they use USSD services.

This was contained in a statement released on today, titled, “Joint Statement By Central Bank Of Nigeria and Nigerian Communications Commission On Pricing Of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Services’’.

The statement was jointly signed by  the apex bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi; and Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Ikechukwu Adinde.

It partly read, “We are pleased to announce that after comprehensive deliberations on the key issues, a resolution framework acceptable to all parties was agreed thus:“Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) 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 (Mobile Network Operators) directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for us of the USSD channel.”

The Federal Government had last week asked telecommunication operators to put on hold, their impending suspension of USSD services over a N42bn debt owed by banks.

The statement jointly issued by the CBN and the NCC also said a settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by mobile network operators was being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.

It said financial institutions and telcos will discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.

“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.

“The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians,” the statement concluded.

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