FG to telcos: Hold off your planned suspension of USSD banking services

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The Nigerian government has asked that the planned suspension of the USSD services by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) be put on hold.

The suspension is expected to take effect Monday, March 15, 2021.  But the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has asked telecom operators to hold their guns while government addresses the issues.

The minister has called for a meeting of critical stakeholders to include the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the MNOs and the financial institutions. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 15, 2021.  

Telcos want to unplug the USSD services due to huge unpaid debts by commercial banks for the provision of USSD banking services.

A statement issued this weekend by Pantami’s Technical Assistant (Information Technology), Dr Femi Adeluyi, said that following the directives of the minister on the 20th of October 2019, consumers of telecommunication services and the general public were notified of the immediate suspension of “End User Billing for financial transactions through USSD channels.

“Furthermore, as part of measures aimed at addressing the lingering issue of the impasse in the rendering of USSD services to Banks and other financial institutions by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), an amended Determination on USSD Pricing was issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the 24th of July 2020. However, the issue persisted, hence the decision to suspend the service.

“The Honourable Minister sent a letter with respect to the issues to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the 3rd of March 2021, regarding the need to direct the banks to do the needful.  In a bid to ensure an amicable resolution of the impasse, Dr. Pantami has called for a meeting of all stakeholders, including the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, the MNOs and the financial institutions.  “The meeting is scheduled to hold on Monday, 15th of March, 2021. 

“The outcome of the meeting will determine the next steps regarding the status of the USSD financial services.”

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