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CBN Intervention: Banks and Telcos Settle USSD Rift

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CBN - BVN, NIN, New accounts broad money

CEM REPORT, TECHNOLOGY | Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have agreed to offset the accumulated ₦120 billion unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) debt owed to Telecommunication Operators.

The bank in an intervention meeting between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), telecom operators and the banks agreed to pay for the USSD service going forward under the corporate billing term.

Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), revealed at the Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum (TERF) held in Lagos.

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He explained that the resolution was reached upon the realisation that financial inclusion cannot be achieved without telecom services.

He said the Acting Governor of the CBN, Folashodun Shonubi, acknowledged that without the USSD service, there would be no digital financial inclusion and the penetration of the inclusion would be nowhere near where it is now.

“At a meeting between the acting CBN governor, the NCC, the telcos and the banks, it was acknowledged that the debt exists, that going forward, the service has to be paid for by the banks through corporate billing. It is an important development for the telecoms industry that we have found an amicable resolution to the problem because we’re all serving the same government. We do not want to disrupt financial services in the country.

“We want to see the financial inclusion penetration to even go higher. We want it to be ubiquitous, but we cannot do this without settling the legacy debt, as well as paying for the service that is being provided.”

Danbatta, who said the telecoms sector remains the infrastructure for another sector because of its immense importance to the economy, noted that through ICT/telecoms, financial inclusion has reached 70 per cent penetration in the country.

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Recall that telcos have severally threatened to disconnect banks from the USSD service over non-payment. The then CBN Governor and Minister had waded into the situation but no visible change was seen except the debt rose from ₦100 billion to ₦120 billion where it stands.

The challenge was the banks wanted the end users to pay for the service noting that they use the service not the banks. The telcos on the other hand cleared that they provide the service to the banks and not the customers. Adding that the bank was to pay in the form of corporate billing, which is neat.

Meanwhile, customers have been receiving a charge for using a bank’s USSD service, by implication of the resolution, the charge ought to be stopped as the bank will now be paying for the service.

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