Telecom Companies Threaten To Disconnect Banks From USSD
Telecommunications companies have threatened to stop offering Unstructured Supplementary Service Data services to financial institutions without commensurate financial payment for the services.
The companies, which are also members of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, insisted that they would not offer the service free of charge to banks.
The Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, while speaking at a press conference to announce the 20th anniversary of the association in Lagos on Wednesday, said network operators incurred costs daily for providing the services.
He said, “The USSD is a service we are providing for the banks and there is a cost incurred by telecom operators for providing those services.
“The bank has given an erroneous impression to the public that it is a sunk cost and it is not because for the service to be allowed, the cell site must be powered, there must be transmission link available and our systems must interconnect with the systems of the banks. It is a recurring cost other than the initial capital.”
According to Adebayo, it is morally wrong for banks to keep charging its subscribers for USSD transactions without paying the amount due to network operators for facilitating the payments.
He added, “If they think we should not charge, they also should not charge our subscribers. A time will come when we will have to invoke our rights under the Communications Act, which allows us to seek a request to disconnect the link.”
Adebayo explained that the access charge for the USSD was arrived at after a price determination analysis conducted by the NCC and should not be altered by a ministerial directive.
The telcos and Nigerian banks have been embroiled in a month-long dispute after MTN informed its subscribers of its intention to charge N4 for 20 seconds of the USSD access based on consent by banks.
While the bank executives denied having knowledge of the direct USSD access charge to customers, telcos insisted that banks agreed to the charge.