Telcos say end-user billing won’t happen over USSD

By Adeyemi Adepetun |   01 January 2020   |   3:25 am  

• CBN working to resolve identified lapses

Telecommunications companies have said that end-user billings will not happen over the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), but rather a corporate billing will be applied.

Speaking under the aegis of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the operators urged the banks to be transparent in their dealings with customers across the country.

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The President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola, who spoke on a television interview, yesterday, monitored by The Guardian, said instead of end-user billing, corporate billing will apply in the recovery of USSD charges, directly from the banks.

Teniola insisted that banks have refused to have a roundtable with the telcos on the matter in order to find a middle ground for both parties.

“When I said the on-going conversation had been had in May, this was before the USSD issue. What is interesting is that if that meeting had gone well, we wouldn’t have been involved in this imbroglio again. I said during a recent discussion that we need transparency.

“The banks need to be transparent to their customers. There seems to be a sort of confusion as to what rate is to be charged, and for what purpose. The telco platform has always existed and existed for all the sectors. We never had any issues such as this. It is only with the banks that we are having issues. It seems the bank just wants to be making money.

“I have said it before; the banks are making billions of naira almost on a daily basis, especially from technology evolution. SMS, for instance, is at cost recovery as indicated, same with USSD. In fact, banks shouldn’t charge for the SMS or USSD. They should actually know that that is not what banks are about.

“End-User billing will not happen; telcos will not go to the customers and take charges from them (subscribers) that really apply to the banks. Corporate billings will apply. They use the platform, we have the records, then we sent the bill, and that is under the USSD Cost Determination Study of July 23, 2019, where a certain figure is expected to be paid to the telcos.”

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While further discussion is said to be on-going at the level of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Body of Banks Chief Executive Officer (BOBCEO), Teniola insisted that there should be a wider stakeholder meeting, where all the parties involved in the matter will sit and resolve the issue amicably.

Teniola reminded that the telcos platforms have been upgraded following changes in technology (2G, 3G, 4G and 5G) to boost services, and equally enhance banking services.

Earlier at the programme, CBN Director, Consumer Protection, Kofo Salami Alada, noted that before any decision is made, the apex bank usually consult stakeholders.

Salami-Alada said every step taken on electronic payment charges was targeted at driving financial inclusion in Nigeria.

According to him, the banking sector still intends to leverage the infrastructure of the telcos to drive digitisation. This, he said was the reason why the CBN has licensed some telcos as Payment Service Banks, with the hope that they will start operations in 2020.

He stressed that it is not only through the mobile phones that financial inclusion will be achieved, “but even through the conventional banks, and other means.”

Salami-Alada insisted that the CBN has met stakeholders and will still meet others to find a lasting solution to every challenge identified, especially on charges on electronic payments.

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