Nigerian Banks, MTN Dispute over USSD, Airtime Fees

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There were strong indications last night that some commercial banks may have yanked off their USSD, airtime purchase, and other online services from MTN network because of the disagreement between the financial institutions and the telecommunication company on the amount to be charged.

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THISDAY gathered that the bank Chief Executive Officers had at a recent meeting agreed to stop the purchase of MTN services across all their channels beginning from 11 pm last night until further notice.

Attempt by THISDAY to get airtime from GTBank last night showed that the commercial bank had removed MTN among the network its customers could purchase airtime from.

However, Fidelity Bank was still offering the service as of midnight.

A source on the brink of the banks explained that the disagreement arose after MTN recently reduced the discount offered to banks on airtime sales from four per cent to 2.5 per cent, which didn’t go down well with banks considering the price of managing the infrastructure and other operational costs they incurred.

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A top bank official, who pleaded to stay anonymous, said other banks are expected to adjust to the decision of their CEOs from today.

He disclosed that over 60 per cent of airtime vending by telcos presently were done electronically through the banks.

The CBN and also the NCC, had in a recent communique issued at the end of a gathering to resolve the disagreement on USSD fee between the banks and telcos agree that with effect from March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at banks and all CBN- licensed institutions would be a flat rate of N6.98k per transaction.

This replaced the previous per session billing structure, ensuring a way cheaper monetary value for purchasers to ensure financial inclusion.

“To promote transparency, the new USSD charges are going to be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. “Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for the utilization of USSD channel. “A settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services previously rendered by the MNOs is being figured out by all parties during a bid to make sure that the matter is fully resolved,” the communiqué explained.

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Source: Thisday

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