USSD: Commercial Banks to Pay Telcos N17bn in Debt – Danbatta

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Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has recently said that Nigerian commercial banks owe over N17 billion to telecommunications companies.

This coming from the backdrop of suspending its Determination on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) Pricing in the previous year.

The Commission in continuation of its effort to assure consumer protection while supporting a robust telecommunications sector has recently revised the Determination on the USSD.

Danbatta who spoke at the ATCON’s virtual forum on “Meeting the Interests of Government, Consumers and Telecoms Companies in the Era of Covid-19 and Post Covid-19 Pandemic for Digital Economy Development”, noted that Dr. Ali Isa Ibrahim Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy had been notified of the recent development in a bid to ensure a swift settlement of the debt.

The EVC also noted that the  Commission in its quick response to resolve consumer-related issues had in 2015 introduced the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) code, a development that saw not up to 500,000 users activate the code as that time, but today the number has grown to 22,722,366.

He further commented that ninety-eight per cent (98%) of the accumulated complaints that are service-related were resolved successfully by NCC within a period of 15 months from January 2019 to April 2020.

“The Commission has monthly engagements with operators as well as quarterly industry working group on Quality of Service and Short Codes, and is currently monitoring 2G Key Performance Indicators, while the KPIs for 4G are being prepared.”, commented the EVC on the quality of service.

It should be noted that the Commission in a recent press statement made available to the media observed that the changes made to its  USSD Determination was a necessary action that came up from a long-held dispute between the Financial Institutions and Mobile Network Operators as it concerns applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.

NCC as a responsive body is well aware that some of its regulatory policies are subject to changes and therefore they can get modified as the situation warrants.

In the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has revised the previously issued Determination through the removal of the Price Floor and the Cap that allow banks and the Mobile Network Operators in negotiating rates that will bring mutual benefit to all concerned parties.

The Commission also determined that charges on the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing by the Mobile Network Operators must not be directly on the consumers.

According to NCC, the transaction should be between the entity to which the service is provided (i.e. Banks and Financial Institutions) and the MNOs.

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