Ecobank Nigeria Limited has announced the cancellation of charges on USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) services for its customers.
This announcement was made by the Managing Director of the bank, Patrick Akinwuntan while speaking at the 4th National Fintech Conference in Lagos. Akinwuntan also urged other Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) as well as telecommunication companies to do same.
“For us, at Ecobank we will not charge anybody when you use our shortcode *326# to do financial transactions going forward and I challenge my colleagues in the banking industry and telecommunication companies to do the same thing. We should not be having a debate of what excludes Nigerians from what I will say is the financial human rights to participate in the economy,” he said.
The uproar on USSD charges began when MTN users received a text message about a week ago stating that the telco was to start charging N4 per 20 seconds for usage of the USSD code in line with the directives given by the banks.
Although the Body of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers insisted that it did not ask the telco to make USSD deductions from banks’ depositors. The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) accused the bank CEOs, saying they were the biggest beneficiaries of the USSD platform as they used it to optimize their operations, serve the banking population and generate huge revenue.
All this led to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) suspending and prohibiting telcos from charging Nigerians for the service. Meanwhile, while the charges on the USSD code is still uncertain, users who may want to avoid this charge will need to download the banks’ applications for transaction.