Nigerian banks proposed to telecom companies to charge customers directly for USSD services, a memo seen by TheCable has revealed. This seems to contradict the public denial by bank CEOs on Monday.
They said the decision “on whether, and what amount, to charge a customer for accessing USSD is entirely that of the telco company, in the same way a customer is billed for calls, SMS and data”.
In a letter to the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) by the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers (BOBCEO) dated September 16, 2019, the bank MDs had proposed an “orderly implementation” of end-user billing for bank customers, “aligning with the standard practice for USSD billing.”
They said: “Customers using non-bank services already pay for USSD sessions.”
The letter was signed by 13 banks.
On Sunday, MTN sent this message to its customers: “Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.”
Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the minister of communications, immediately directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to suspend the new charge.
In the memo to ALTON, the bank MDs had kicked against sharing the revenue from USSD transactions with the telcos.
GTBank, for instance, charges N50 plus VAT for instant transfers to other banks and N20 plus VAT for GTB-to-GTB transfers.
The telcos, who provide the platform for the USSD service, had proposed to take a cut of N4.50k per 20 seconds from the charges paid by customers to the banks.
However, the banks kicked against it, alleging that it would raise the cost by 450 per cent.
See The Letter Below