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CBN Introduces New Charges For Customers Using USSD Services

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have announced the introduction of new charges for customers using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services.

The 2 regulatory agencies said that customers will pay a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time they use USSD services with effect from Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

This is the outcome of the meeting between the CBN, NCC, deposit money banks and mobile network operators (MNOs) over a protracted dispute concerning appropriate pricing for the USSD pricing model for financial services which resulted in accumulated debt and a possible withdrawal of USSD services by MNOs.

This disclosure is contained in a statement jointly signed by the CBN’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi; and Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Ikechukwu Adinde on Tuesday.

The joint statement stated that the new charges was part of the resolution reached at the meeting adding that a settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by mobile network operators was being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.

The statement which was titled, ‘Joint Statement By Central Bank Of Nigeria and Nigerian Communications Commission On Pricing Of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Services’, partly read, “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 (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 the USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs is being worked at 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 to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.’’

“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 statement reiterated that 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 said that they shall continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians,” the statement concluded.

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