Following Nairametrics’ report on the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) when Banks CEOs distanced selves from the controversial charges MTN Nigeria wanted to carry out, TheCable has leaked a memo that showed that the banks had proposed to Telecommunication companies (Telcos) to charge customers directly for the USSD services.
The twist contradicts the claims of the bankers. In a statement issued by the Committee of Bank CEOs and obtained by Nairametrics, the bankers insisted that they did not ask MTN to start charging customers as contained in the text message. They said the decision on whether, and what amount, to charge a customer for accessing USSD is entirely that of the telco company, in the same way a customer is billed for calls, SMS and data.
However, in a letter addressed to the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) by the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers (BOBCEO), dated September 16, 2019, the banks chiefs proposed an “orderly implementation” of end-user billing for bank customers, “aligning with the standard practice for USSD billing.”
In the memo to ALTON, the bank chiefs frowned at sharing the revenue from USSD transactions with the telcos as it claimed that the service providers, who provide the platform for the USSD service, had proposed to take a cut of N4.50k per 20 seconds from the charges paid by customers to the banks. The banks kicked against it, alleging that it would raise the cost by 450%.
It letter read, “The demand forces us to a level where we will pay N4.5 per USSD session of 20 seconds, amounting for (to) around 450% increase in tariff. Many transactions extend to two or three sessions. This is a cost that will destroy the financial inclusion strides made by banks where we have included almost 20million more citizens in the financial system by building services that run on USSD.
“We are proposing an orderly implementation end-user billing for bank customers, aligning with the standard practice for USSD billing. Customers using non-bank services already pay for USSD sessions. It forces cost transparency between the Telecoms Company and customers and will ensure the customer demands a reliable service that works when they need it at a price they can afford. In the Reverse Corporate Billing situation, we are unable to attain competitiveness nor transparency.
“We look forward to immediate dialogue and appreciate your response by Monday 23rd September. Yours faithfully,
” Bank CEOs of Nigeria.”