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Nigeria: Stakeholders settle differences over USSD-based banking regulation

Nigeria , 17 Mar 2021
Participants at the stakeholder meeting. Source: NCC.
Participants at the stakeholder meeting. Source: NCC.

The NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have agreed that USSD services for financial transactions will be charged at a flat fee of NGN6.98k (about US$2-cents) per transaction.

Stakeholders must negotiate how the new USSD pricing framework is to be implemented, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (APIs) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.

This arrangement replaces the current per session billing structure and is more cost effective for consumers, the regulators said, adding that the new framework is transparent and ensures amounts stay the same regardless of how many sessions there are with each transaction.

“To promote transparency in its administration, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of mobile network operators directly from customers’ bank accounts. Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for use of the USSD channel,” they stated.

This week ITWeb Africa reported on the disagreement between banks and telcos over payment for USSD services, including payment of charges that have accumulated and now amount to NGN42-billion (approximately US$110-million).

Following a meeting called by the Ministry, it was agreed that a settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services that were previously rendered by the operators is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.

The stakeholders added: “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 stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.”

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