BANKING & FINANCECOVERNEWSLETTER

ALTON Proposes Free USSD Services to Banks’ Customers

ALTON

Telecommunications companies under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has challenged banks to stop charging telecoms subscribers for the use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services.

ALTON said it will, in turn, provide the service at no cost to the banks.

USSD is used to make balance inquiry, call customer centre, purchase airtime or access data services,

But banks have reportedly reneged on a supposed gentleman agreement between them and the telcos over USSD charge.

ALTON said the group will shut down the USSD platform which banks use for mobile money transfer if CBN does not force banks to pay up the share they owe them.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON, said that network operators incurred costs daily for providing the services.

Adebayo said if banks wanted to get the service for free, they should stop charging telcoms subscribers for it.

“If they think we should not charge, they also should not charge our subscribers,” he said.

“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.”

The telcos, who provide the platform for the USSD service, had proposed to take a cut of N4.50k per 20 seconds from the charges paid by customers to the banks.

However, the banks kicked against it, alleging that it would raise cost by 450 percent.

“The USSD is a service we are providing for the banks and there is a cost incurred by telecom operators for providing those services,” Adebayo said.

“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.”

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