Banks reconnect MTN subscribers to USSD services

COMMERCIAL banks, on Sunday, reconnected MTN subscribers to their unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) payment channels after the telecommunications giant backtracked on its earlier position.

MTN had turned to fintech firms such as Flutterwave and Opay after banks disconnected its 77 million customers from USSD channels due to disagreements over commissions. But the telecoms giant has shifted its position.

A report quoting  Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria Karl Toriola said the telecoms giant would revert to the initial commission (of 4.5 per cent) charged by banks on airtime sales pending the outcome of a meeting where reduction of the charge would be discussed on Tuesday.

According to the report, the letter dated April 3, 2021, was signed by  Toriola, and it was addressed to the Chairman of Body of Banks’ CEOs, Herbert Wigwe.

“Our virtual meeting between yourself (Wigwe) and Segun Agbaje (MD of GTBank) on the one hand and myself (Toriola) and Modupe Kadri (chief financial officer of MTN Nigeria) on the other refers,” the letter read.

The mobile network operator had reduced banks’ commission from an average of 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, leading to a dispute between MTN and commercial banks.

“In an attempt to resolve the current USSD recharge impasse, given the interventions from our regulators, we hereby agree. The banks revert to the status quo of 4.5 per cent commission.



    “However, the banks and MTN Communications Nigeria Plc shall sit to agree on various options that will result in the reduction in the costs on 6th of April 2021,” the letter stated.

    Commercial banks had asked MTN to reverse its action to the old commission of 4.5 per cent or lose access to mobile banking applications and USSD payment channels.

    Due to MTN’s refusal to revert to the commission, commercial banks, except Zenith Bank, which is connected directly to the MNO, denied customers access to the USSD platform, leaving many subscribers stranded and frustrated as they were only able to recharge their lines with physical cards.

    On Saturday, MTN offered alternative channels for its subscribers, asking then to dial *904# and *606# to access other electronic payment platforms.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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