Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Telecommunication operators (Telcos) in Nigeria have introduced charges on the use of USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) code for banking services.
According to the text message received by several bank users today, starting from tomorrow, October 21, every usage of USSD code for banking services now attracts N4 per 20 seconds.
The messages received across board by MTN users read:
“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info.
“Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you“
How this affects you: USSD code is a Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication technology that is used to send text between a mobile phone and an application program in the network.
- The USSD is simply a code that you enter on your phone to enable you enjoy certain banking services. These are services that could have otherwise taken you to the banking hall, the ATM, or an Internet-connected desktop, laptop, iPad or smartphone for Internet banking.
- Basically, by simply entering a USSD code (designated by your bank) on your mobile that is not even connected to the Internet, you can enjoy several banking services that otherwise may have necessitated you going to the banking hall, an ATM or an Internet-connected computer.
- With the new charge imposed, it means the service is no longer free and a user will now pay N4 per 20 seconds used.
- Meanwhile, users who may want to avoid this charge will need to download the banks’ application for transaction.
But Nigerians are not having it. Following the announcement, Nigerians have expressed disappointment at the development, describing it as too much burden for the people to bear and may further worsen the financial inclusion state of the Nigerian people.
According to a twitter user, Alex Oluwatobi, this is not democracy but “Exploitocracy”.
1. VAT on an increase.
2. Toll gate is coming back.
3. Charges on cash deposit & withdrawal has been implemented.
5. N50 stamp duty on PoS transaction over 1k.
6. Payment for the renewal of National ID card.
7. USSD charge for banking services.
Sighs, it is well. 🚶♂️ pic.twitter.com/7JZxbQ2Qhg
— Alex Oluwatobi (@alexlobaloba) October 20, 2019
Another twitter user lamented that all the polices from VAT increase, charges on deposit and withdrawals, payment on renewal of National ID and others come so quickly.
And all these charges were implemented so quickly!
But minimum wage agreed since how many months is yet to be implemented across all levels https://t.co/mxB2nqROkO
— Annieeeeeeeee (@aneetah_Efemena) October 20, 2019
Chika Nelson disappointingly disclosed that Charges won’t Stop until Nigerians come together& say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Also, Mrs Aijay stated that while the communication tax is still in the pipeline, another charges on struggling citizens is here.
They are still talking about communication tax….all these taxes from citizens who are struggling under the wings of poor economy. Na wa ooo
— Mrs Aijay (@Mrsaijay) October 20, 2019
Meanwhile, another twitter user opined that it is the high time every bank user now downloaded application for transactions against the use of USSD code.
I never for once liked to use any bank's USSD code.
Now I'm seeing network provider's saying they will charge for every USSD bank usage.
They are all out to drain from the little we don't even have.
Please if you use an internet enabled device, get your bank app. ✌
— Da Mayor of Tweet City 🌎 (@iam_damayor) October 20, 2019
A counter move: As the uproar continues, the ministry of communication has issued a counter statement to dispel the purported new policy. In a statement released by the ministry, the Minister of Communication, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, stated that the ministry is not aware of such development and thereby directed the Nigerian Communication Commission to ensure the operator suspends such plans until the ministry properly briefed.
— Fed Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy (@FMoCDENigeria) October 20, 2019
UPDATED: Court rules ICAN members do not need CITN license to file tax returns
The suit, which was filed some years ago by CITN, was basically struck out for lacking merit.
Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State has ruled that members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) do not need to be licensed by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) before they can file tax returns.
The ruling on July 2nd followed a suit filed by CITN trying to restrain ICAN members from filing tax returns for their clients unless they have a practicing CITN license.
A notice to ICAN members regarding this development, as seen by Nairametrics, noted that Justice Onigbanjo struck out the suit after describing it as “an abuse of court process and an embarrassment to the judiciary.”
The backstory: Nairametrics understands that the disagreement between ICAN and CITN stemmed from the misinterpretation of a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Terms of Settlement (ToS) between the two organisations. Consequently, CITN had filed a suit before the High Court of Lagos State, seeking the following:
- A declaration that the Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Service both dated February 12, 2015 between the CITN and ICAN are valid, subsisting, and binding on the CITN and ICAN.
- An injunction restraining ICAN whether by its agents, privies, assigns, or whosoever called, from repudiating, resiling from or acting in any manner or doing anything that is inconsistent with, contrary to or is a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Terms of Settlement dated February 12, 2015, between the CITN and ICAN.
- Determine whether the Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Settlement both dated February 12, 2015 between the CITN and ICAN are valid, subsisting, and binding on CITN and the ICAN.
However, last week’s ruling by Justice S. A. Onigbanjo which, by the way, was delivered virtually due to COVID-19, has made it impossible for the CITN to implement the terms of the 2015 MoU and ToS. The ruling also aligned with ICAN’s earlier objection to the MoU and ToS.
The status quo: In view of this development, ICAN has informed its members that they do not need to obtain any license from the CITN before they can file tax returns for their clients with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.
ICAN members were also informed that an earlier ruling by the Federal High Court on the case does not affect the status quo. This is because “the earlier ruling by the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make pronouncement on the memorandum and terms of settlement between ICAN and CITN.” More so, regulation 5 of the FIRS Act was not reflected in the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court.
China more willing to restructure Africa’s debt than private creditors
Agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors.
A recent study by John Hopkins University reveals it may be easier for African Nations to raise debt and also get debt relief from China than private creditors.
The report of the study comes a day after China promised to cancel interests from loans to African nations and restructure debt to Africa. The study also revealed that China has restructured $15 billion of African debt and written off $3.4 billion in the past ten years.
After 1,000 Chinese loans, including restructured Mozambican and Republic of Congo debt, were analysed, the researchers concluded that “the agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors”.
The Paris Club recently agreed to pause debt payment valued at $11 billion for the poorest 73 nations freeing up capital to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, not all eligible nations signed up citing fears of default ratings if debt obligations are not met.
The study discovers difficulties in renegotiating terms on International Bonds for African countries due to the disparate ownership structure making private creditors unwilling to grant complete debt relief, citing warnings on rating downgrades.
China accounts for about 20% of Africa’s external debt and lent over $150 billion to the continent between 2000-2018 the study reveals. Chinese President, Xi Jinping has urged global leaders to be more pragmatic with debt suspension for Africa.
The study says much of the terms of Chinese debt to Africa has not been transparent and the relief negotiations may follow the same path.
Orange, France’s largest telco operator, may come to Nigeria in months
Orange would also be looking at bolstering partnerships with health companies or institutions.
France’s largest telecom operator, Orange, is set to extend its tentacles to Nigeria and South Africa.
Chief Executive Officer, Orange, Stephane Richard, who disclosed the news, said that the firm would make the move in a few months.
He said, “It could make sense to be in economies such as Nigeria and South Africa. If one considers there are things to do, the time frame I am considering is rather a few months than a few years.”
The Middle East and Africa, where Orange has a presence in 18 countries, is the company’s fastest-growing market.
What you need to know: There are chances that the company may eye payment transfers (mobile) in Nigeria.
That is because it makes the largest chunk of its revenue from payment transfers (Middle East), a key part of the group’s diversification into financial services, and Nigeria, which is the most populous black nation, is always an attraction.
Meanwhile, earlier in 2020, Orange had stated that it was bringing its operations in the Middle East and Africa into a single entity, paving the way for a potential listing of the operations that could raise cash to invest in overseas expansion.
“Orange would also be looking at bolstering partnerships with health companies or institutions,” he added.
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