The Association of Licensed Telecommunications of Nigeria (ALTON) has insisted that the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service would not be offered free of charge to the banks.
Its Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, while sharing the success story of the industry in the last 20 years with pressmen, argued that contrariy to the belief that USSD cost is a sunk cost as championed by the CBN, it is rather an infrastructure, which operators had invested so much in the last one decade.
Adebayo warned that if nothing is done to resolve the squabbles as result of the USSD service, his members would soon disconnect all banks in the country from their network.
He said this was as a result of the unwillingness of regulators in both the banking and the telecoms industry as well as the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to resolve the impasse between the Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and the banks.
He expressed displeasure over the undue silence of the key stakeholders in resolving the crisis of the USDD by calling for a meeting to determine if the banks should continue to charge their customers while the telecoms operators offer same services to the banks for free.
The Federal Ministry of Communications had ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to direct mobile network operators to suspend the N4 charge per 20 seconds on USSD access for banking services, which MTN Nigeria had recently said it would introduce.
And following that directive, MTN Nigeria had asked all parties concerned in the USSD End User Billing crisis to approach the table and engage constructively towards a solution, putting the consumer at the fore of all decisions. But as at the time of filing this report, there had not been any response from the key regulators or the government. Soon once the MNOs carry out their threat, the entire economy will be grounded. ALTON said that they are no longer willing to offer free access to their network for the banks to do their businesses.
According to him, ALTON has details of what the banks are making from their customers through the short code banking services they provide for them which is made possible by the MNOs stressing that the MNOs have made huge investment running their network.