MTN Nigeria has blocked its subscribers from recharging their mobile phones or buying data using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes.
This happened after the telecoms giant allegedly cut back on the commissions it pays out to banks and fintechs on the sales of airtime and data.
What it means
This means that subscribers cannot recharge their lines or buy data plans using the USSD codes particular to their banks.
Several banks have sent notifications to the customers after they made efforts to recharge via USSD code, My MTNapp, and some FinTech firms.
MTN, with about 77 million subscribers, making up about 45 per cent of the total telecommunication market share in Nigeria, is arguably the largest telecommunication operator in the country.
The financial institutions’ response reads:
“Dear Customer, this service is temporarily unavailable. Kindly contact your Telecom service provider.”
MTN Nigeria also confirmed the development in a mail sent to some of its partners, which in part reads:
“Dear Customer, Please be informed that some of Mycustomers may not be able to purchase airtime, and data recharge via banks including MOD, and myMTNApp.
Please pacify Mycustomers and educate them to use MTNTopit, MoMo channels, as well as the debit card options on MOD or myMTN App.”
One of the Telco’s partners, who prefers anonymity, alleged that the company singlehandedly decided to cut back on the commissions it pays out to banks and fintechs on the sales of airtime and data without proper engagement.
She said, “I believe the way the process was handled is unfair and a dare to some of the partners. The Class C category, which has partners at the bottom of the pyramid was cancelled and that takes effect from April 1, 2021.
“Aside from that, before slashing the commission, we expect the Telco to pay what they owe and not try to factor it into a new price regime so that customers will unknowingly pay for them. The fear is that if MTN succeeds, other telcos may follow the same path.”
Efforts to reach MTN on the development were abortive, as a source in the Public Relations outfit that manages the brand disclosed that the Telco has not issued any statement in that regard.
See MTN’s Revised Discount notification below:
What you should know
Three weeks ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced the introduction of new charges for customers using the USSD services, according to Nairametrics.
The two regulatory agencies said that customers will pay a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time they use USSD services with effect from Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
This is the outcome of the meeting between the CBN, NCC, deposit money banks and mobile network operators (MNOs) over a protracted dispute concerning appropriate pricing for the USSD services which has resulted in accumulated debt and a possible withdrawal of USSD services by MNOs.