Telecommunication companies have responded to the earlier claim by the Committee of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers, stating that banks were the biggest beneficiaries of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) charges.

The Committee of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers had released a statement denying directing MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN) or any other operator to collect USSD charges from bank depositors.

In a letter addressed to the CEOs, operators under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) accused the CEOs of making allegations against them. The operators also disagreed with the position of the banks that the charges would lead to 450% rise in tariff.

According to the letter, which was signed by the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, banks were the biggest beneficiaries of the USSD platform as they used it to optimize their operations, serve the banking population and generate huge revenue.

“The above underscores the fact that the biggest beneficiaries in the USSD value chain are the banks and that the allegation of destroying the financial inclusion strides by our members are unfounded.

“It will be impossible to connect Automated Teller Machines and Point of Sale terminals across the length and breadth of Nigeria without our members’ dedication and support. In addition, the cashless policy drive and the instant payment solution of the financial sector would not have been possible without our members’ support.”

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Making further clarifications, Adebayo said that the banks stopped paying the cost for providing the USSD services two months ago and had directed telcos to devise ways to recover their money from subscribers.

He said the banks stated that they would no longer pay for the USSD service delivered to their customers, following the issuance of the USSD pricing determination by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

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It was gathered that some telcos had initiated the end-user billing for the USSD transactions due to the suspension of corporate billing by the banks.

“Why will the banks charge customers and not share the cost with the operators and you don’t expect the operators to charge customers? Banks continue to take the money without giving anything to the operators.

“Given that the USSD channel has become an established and most preferred channel for the banks especially for the banked population, we state that asking the customer to pay for the USSD is akin to requesting a customer to pay a bank’s landlord access fees prior to gaining access to banking premises,” Adebayo said.

Therefore, the bone of contention is that the end-user billing as advised by the banks’ CEOs would amount to double billing to bank customers as the banks are not sharing the fees they charge customers on USSD sessions with the telcos.

More so, the end-user billing for financial transactions, through the USSD channel by all telecom operators, has been suspended by the NCC.

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