Subscribers of Telecommunication services in Nigeria have said that the new Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service charge of N6.98 is appalling and unacceptable.
They insisted that the quarrel between the banks and the telecom operators should not be resolved by taxing subscribers. This came after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced that USSD services for financial transactions would be charged at N6.98 per transaction.
This was disclosed by the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria, Deolu Ogunbanjo, who described the charge as a step back from financial inclusion.
In an interview, he described the development as unacceptable, saying that such a burden should not be placed on subscribers.
He said, “Everything in telecoms that’s meant to put a smile on subscribers’ faces is now being eroded. Why should they increase the USSD transaction fee? It’s appalling and condemnable, and we’ll take it up with them.”
Similarly, the Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers also frowned at the new USSD service charge. The National President, Sina Bilesanmi, explained that the charge was unacceptable and must be rejected by every bank account holder.
He said, “It is exploitative and this dictatorial act must stop forthwith. I am amazed that the same CBN that was initially opposed to the unjustified increase in USSD service charge in 2019 now made the announcement of the hike.
“If the Central Bank of Nigeria and telecommunication companies do not revert to the previous rate, we shall institute legal action against them.”
What you should know
The development could be attributed to threats by banks to withdraw the USSD services rendered to Telco subscribers due to an outstanding debt of over N42 billion.
Series of meetings held among MTN, commercial banks and FinTechs to align on longer-term pricing structures on USSD services appeared inconclusive, according to Nairametrics.
This was also confirmed by the Telco giant in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Funso Aina on Thursday. According to the statement, which was seen by Nairametrics, MTN stated that the streamlining it undertook is international standard and best practice as scale is built along distribution channels.