Bank customers in Nigeria using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) will now pay a N6.98 service charge for each transaction, effective 16 March.
This was announced in a joint statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Tuesday.
The deal was part of an agreement reached with banks following a disagreement between banks and telecom firms over the N42 billion debt accrued from USSD and other text message transaction requests.
According to the statement, the new charges replaces the current per billing structure.
It explained that Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, chaired a meeting of key stakeholders, including Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), to discuss an amicable resolution in the interest of the general public.
The statement read: “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.
“A settlement 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 meeting was attended by representatives of MNOs, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), DMBs, CBN and NCC.
The Federal Government had last week asked telecommunication operators to put on hold their impending suspension of USSD services over the debt owed by banks.