Nigeria’s Apex Bank Prohibits MTN From Surcharging Subscribers For Access To Banking Services


The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has frustrated a plan by Telecom operator, MTN, to surcharge it’s customers for use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD, in banking transactions with effect from  Monday, October 21, 2019.

Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, told Journalists at a forum in Washington, United States, that the Apex bank had not permitted the telecom company to levy Subscribers for use of USSD.

He explained that the bank in May this year, had a meeting with some telecom companies and front line banking institutions in Nigeria where it was agreed that the use of USSD should be considered  a sunk cost rather than additional cost.

In his words, “About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos, at that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost what we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.”

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us saying it was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it, I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen.” He said.

Over the weekend, MTN sent short messages to its subscribers notifying them of the decision to surcharge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services, claiming it was on the request of the banks and would take effect from Monday, October 21.

“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.” The first message read.

Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services, thank you.” MTN wrote in a second message.

It is left to be seen if the telecom company will carry on with its plan despite the apex bank’s denial of granting approval.


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