Banks, MTN Dispute Over USSD, Airtime Fees Deepens
There were strong indications last night that some commercial banks may have yanked off their USSD, airtime purchase, and other online services from MTN network due to the disagreement between the financial institutions and the telecommunication company on the amount to be charged.
THISDAY gathered that the bank Chief Executive Officers had at a recent meeting agreed to shut down purchase of MTN services across all their channels beginning from 11 pm last night until further notice.
Attempt by THISDAY to purchase airtime from GTBank last night showed that the commercial bank had removed MTN among the network its customers could purchase airtime from.
However, Fidelity Bank was still offering the service as of midnight.
A source close to the banks explained that the disagreement arose after MTN recently reduced the discount offered to banks on airtime sales from four per cent to 2.5 per cent, which did not go down well with banks considering the cost of managing the infrastructure and other operational costs they incurred.
A top bank official, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said other banks are expected to comply with the decision of their CEOs from today.
He disclosed that over 60 per cent of airtime vending by telcos presently were done electronically through the banks.
The CBN and the NCC, had in a recent communique issued at the end of a meeting to resolve the disagreement on USSD fee between the banks and telcos agree that with effect from March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at banks and all CBN- licensed institutions would be a flat rate of N6.98k per transaction.
This replaced the previous per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to ensure financial inclusion.
“To promote transparency, the new USSD charges will be collected on behalf of MNOs directly from customers’ bank accounts. “Banks shall not impose additional charges on customers for the use of USSD channel. “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,” the communiqué explained.
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