Despite growing discontent, CBN introduces N7 charge for each USSD transaction

THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ignored economic slump and growing discontent in the country to introduce a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time a customer uses the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service.

The apex bank, in a statement released on Tuesday and jointly signed by the apex bank’s acting director of corporate communications Osita Nwanisobi and director of public affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission Ikechukwu Adinde, said the charges were effective from Tuesday (today).

The CBN said that it was part of the agreement reached when banks and telecommunication operators met on Monday to discuss the N42 billion debt owed by the banks to mobile operators.

“Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN – licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction. This replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion. This approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.”

CBN added that the new development was targeted at ensuring transparency in its administration, adding that  the new USSD charges would be collected on behalf of mobile network operators (MNOs) directly from customers’ bank accounts.






     

     

    “A settlement plan for outstanding payments incurred for USSD services, previously rendered by the MNOs, is being worked out by all parties in a bid to ensure that the matter is fully resolved.”

    It also stated that the MNOs and DMBs would discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (API) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.

    CBN, however, said that the USSD channel was optional, adding that several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs might be used for financial transactions.

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    There is a growing discontent in Nigeria as unemployment rate reached 33.3 percent  in the fourth quarter of  2020,  from 27.1 percent in the second quarter of the same year. Inflation hit a four-year high of 17.78 percent in February 2020, with food inflation hitting 21.79 percent. Nigeria is world’s poverty capital, with 87 million living in extreme poverty. Prices of staples from bread to biscuits have risen sporadically in the last six years when President Muhammadu Buhari came in power.

    'Niyi worked with The ICIR as an Investigative Reporter and Fact-checker from 2020 till September 2022. You can shoot him an email via [email protected]. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

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