The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele has explained the reason the apex bank kicked against MTN Nigeria’s planned move to start charging its subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to access banking services.
The governor explained that the telco move will discourage the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy which is aimed at bringing the excluded into the financial ecosystem.
Emefiele explained this on Sunday during a media briefing on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund holding in Washington DC.
He said, “About five months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria and the issue of USSD came up.
“At that time, we came to the conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost, which is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom companies. But the telecoms companies disagreed with us and said it is an additional investment and they needed to impose it.”
The directive followed the announcement by the telco that it would start charging its subscribers for USSD access to banking services on October 21.
A text message sent to its subscribers read, “Yello, please note that from October 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for the USSD access to banking services. Thank you.”
The CBN governor added, “I appealed to them that they should review it downwards and they refused. I understand that three or four weeks ago, rather than reduce it, they went ahead to increase it by 300 per cent.
“I opposed it and I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen; the banks gave this business to the telecoms companies, and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.”
Emefiele informed that he had instructed the banks to move their business to any telecom company that would be ready to charge the lowest service rate, if not zero cost.