Customers to pay N6.98k per transaction for USSD services

Effective March 16, 2021, Nigerian bank customers will pay N6.98k per transaction for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said after a joint meeting on Tuesday.

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The new fee replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion.

USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, particularly for the underserved and/or financially excluded.

A joint statement signed by Osita Nwanisobi, acting director, corporate communications department of the CBN, and Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said this approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.

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 potential service withdrawal by the MNOs.

The new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. This is to promote transparency in administration.

Banks are not to impose additional charges on customers for use of the channel, the statement said.

A statement 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.

The MNOs and the deposit money banks are to 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.

“Banks 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 banks from the USSD channel is hereby vacated. Therefore, banks shall no longer be disconnected from the USSD channel,” the statement said.


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