According to a report made available to the media on Tuesday, October 22, the proposed bank charges for USSD services as proposed to telecom companies were mandated by the banks’ Chief Executive Officers.
This is at variance with the statement issued by the CEOs on Monday. They denied the knowledge of the financial institutions in any decision to levy USSD charges for bank services.
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”.
This was contained 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.
In the letter, the bank CEOs had proposed an “orderly implementation” of end-user billing for bank customers; “aligning with the standard practice for USSD billing.”
They also 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.”
In response to the development, the minister of communications, Isa Pantami, immediately directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to suspend the new charge.
Meanwhile, a memo was sent to ALTON. It revealed 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. One 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.
However, ALTON has issued a strongly-worded statement disagreeing with the decision of BOBCEO; the decision to levy USSD charges on bank customers.
Meanwhile the body has deemed the position of the CEOs as “flawed and unproven”.
Accusations and counter accusations have been going on regards who’s idea it was to propose a USSD charge.
A leaked memo has shown that, it was bank CEOs who proposed the charge to further enrich themselves, at the expense of struggling Nigerians. pic.twitter.com/w1w3L2XdlE
— Ogbuefi Okafor🇳🇬 (@MistaChika) October 23, 2019
ALTON further explained that contrary to insinuation by the bank CEOs that telcos were sabotaging the financial inclusion drive of the Federal Government; the telcos have always supported the drive while the banks have been the greatest beneficiaries.