ICT

MNOs withdrawal of USSD service will derail financial inclusion strategy, Danbatta optimistic for an amicable resolution

The Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, is optimistic for an amicable resolution between mobile network operators and financial institutions in the country, to avoid suspension of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). He noted that the action if carried out will derail the digital financial service strategy of the federal government. 

Nigeria mobile network operators (MNOs) had threatened that it will from March 15th, 2021, withdraw USSD services it offers to banks due to banks indebtedness to the tune of N42 billion. Given the consequence of the USSD services withdrawal by the MNOs to the economy, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has directed that the suspension be put on hold. 

The minister further summoned for a meeting on Monday, with Stakeholders, Central Bank Governor, the Banks Representative, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Executive Commissioner Stakeholders Management and Representative of MNOs.

Prof Danbatta, speaking at the Commemoration of the World Consumer Right Day, said one of the important objectives of the USSD, is driving the digital financial inclusion strategy of the federal government which targets 80% financial inclusion meaning only 20% exclusion to financial services in the country.  

“This service will equally promote money mobile subs penetration which is very low. These are the two important objectives behind the idea of the USSD, and if it is to serve, obviously it is going to attract some charges, no charges are free.”

“The banks are the major beneficiaries of this, we were hoping when it was introduced that some kind of agreement could be reached on a sharing formula, how much should the bank take after charging their customers for this service and how much they are going to give Mobile network operators whose infrastructures are being leveraged upon. 

He explained that despite the fact that MNOs provide USSD service, without infrastructure there will be no services, adding that it takes huge investment by the MNOs to put the infrastructures in place, and it takes another huge investment to expand the infrastructure in order to provide service.

“Our hope is finally, an amicable resolution will be found without the telcos having to suspending the service,   with the attended consequence of derailing digital financial service strategy of the federal government,” said Danbatta,