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Some weeks ago, the CBN directed all Banks to apply charges on cash deposits above N500,000 by individuals in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra and the FCT. This is in addition to some other charges making the rounds recently.

Very recently, I got a text from my bank. There will be a N4 charge on USSD transaction per 20 seconds from October 21. Apparently, another charge is in town. This means that for every minute a user spends, he pays N12 naira.

As you may know, the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) airtime recharge option is sometimes one of the fastest, and easiest. It also comes in very handy when traveling or stranded in a new location and you are in need of urgent top-up for either data or voice calls. It is far better than even the banks’ apps and third-party apps in terms of convenience, since you do not need to login and go through the hassle of typing a password. USSD does not also require internet connection to get your airtime topped-up. In fact, one thing that makes it preferable to other options is that It is completely free, but that is about to change as banks will soon start charging people for using USSD to top-up.

MTN, one of the big telecommunications companies in Nigeria has started sending SMS to its customers regarding the End User Billing for Bank USSD Services.

The SMS reads;

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info.”

This development has been greeted with mixed reactions and for the majority, it is a no-no.

Hear what some Twitter Peeps had to say;

Meanwhile, some people are already leveraging this to build a value proposition for their business. Look at this Tweet.

In the rise of many aggrieved users concerning this recent charge, the Minister of Communication issued a statement to suspend the charges as contained below. This temporarily gives subscribers reprieve but also keeps us in a state of limbo to know the next move of the banks and telcos. Whatever the case, the increase in USSD charge may greatly affect the government’s cashless policy drive as well as increase the burden of the already overburdened average Nigerian.

The information reads;
“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator MTN Nigeria and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.

The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.

Uwa Suleiman”



About Author

Owen Shedrack is an entrepreneur and astute writer. He reports and contributes for TechCultureNG on start-ups, tech and ecosystem intelligence. He sits as founder, and Executive Director at “The Groth Innovation Centre” – a business incubator and innovation hub providing professional business support services for SMEs.

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