The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that effective today, March 16th 2021, that deposit money banks will begin charging a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction for the unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) banking service and banks are to collect this fee from the customer’s account on behalf of the mobile network operator.
The CBN, in a released statement accessed by business a.m after a joint meeting with the Nigerian communications commission, ministry of communication and digital economy and representatives from the various mobile network operators and the association of telecommunications companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Association of licenced telecoms operators of Nigeria (ALTON) revealed that this new charge will replace the former per session billing as it will ensure a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion of the underserved.
The apex bank also revealed that the new approach of billing is transparent and will ensure that the amount charged by the operators remain unaltered irrespective of the number of sessions per transaction.
According to the joint statement issued and signed by Osita Nwanisobi, Ag Director Corporate Communications for CBN, and Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director Public Affairs for NCC said: 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 and all CBN – licensed institutions will be charged 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 directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use 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.
“MNOS and DMBS shall 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. DMBs 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 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”.