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HomeTop NewsMTN, Airtel, others secure NCC approval to disconnect banks from USSD platform...

MTN, Airtel, others secure NCC approval to disconnect banks from USSD platform over unpaid N120 bln debts

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has granted telecom operators approval to disconnect commercial lenders from their USSD platform over N120 billion in unpaid debts.

According to the umbrella body, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the NCC granted the approval for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to disconnect DMBs if they fail to pay the debt owed to operators for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services.

ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, said the approval was granted because despite multiparty stakeholder efforts to resolve the situation and prevent any impact on services, led by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), and including the NCC, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), along with MNOs and DMBs, the DMBs have continued to incur greater and greater debt without making the commensurate payments.

“Every time some progress is made, the DMBs come up with reasons to take stakeholders several steps back in this matter.

“Members of the public will recall that MNOs and DMBs have had protracted disagreements concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions, transparency of charges, mode of collection, and liability for payment of the outstanding and continuous service fees due to the MNOs (which currently stand at over N120 billion).”

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Adebayo said Pantami and NCC CEO Garba Danbatta have made several efforts to get the banks to show good faith and sign an agreement in the national interest based on the resolutions reached at that meeting.

“Unfortunately, the patriotic intervention of the Hon. Minister and the NCC has been taken for granted by the DMBs, as two years later, the banks have failed to sign a final agreement.
“It is pertinent to note that the contract between MNOs and DMBs on the use of USSDs for banking transactions is strictly commercial, and MNOs are at liberty to withdraw the services if it is established that the transaction is unprofitable to them. Over the years, MNOs have invested billions of naira in expanding their systems to accommodate the USSD needs of DMBs.

“This has resulted in more Nigerians having access to banking services, in addition to enabling banks to trim down costs by requiring fewer branches to service their growing customers. Unfortunately, MNOs are not getting paid for their services, and the debt that stood at N42 billion in 2021 has now risen to over N120 billion.

“It is obvious that the level of debt is unsustainable given the time and value of the huge cost of the continuous upgrade and operation of the systems and infrastructure dedicated to supporting USSD transactions of DMBs.

“In view of the foregoing, unless DBMs meet their debt obligations, MNOs will disconnect all banks indebted to them for USSD services rendered,” Adebayo said.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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