Commercial banks in Nigeria now charge customers N6.98 for using the USSD short code for banking transactions, signalling the commencement of the new charge as agreed on after several dialogue between banks and telecommunication companies.
Prior to this banks were charging between N4 and N10 for every USSD transactions. The appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions and resultant accumulated outstanding payments had become a cause of discord among banks and telcos leading to the withdrawal of USSD services earlier this year. To resolve the issue, there had been a dialogue between operators and regulators of the two sectors.
In March this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bankers Committee, the Nigerian Communications Commission and telcos had reached an agreement, issuing a joint statement announcing a resolution of the issue.
According to the statement signed by the CBN and the NCC, effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at banks 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.
“To promote transparency in its administration, 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 use of the 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.
“MNOs and DMBs shall discuss and agree on the operational modalities for the implementation of the new USSD pricing framework, including sharing of Application Programme Interface (APIs) to enable seamless, direct and transparent customer billing.
“The general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions.”
With the new charges taking effect, bank customers to social media to complain, as USSD became the No1 trending topic on Twitter yesterday evening.