Starting from today March 15, telecommunication companies in Nigeria will withdraw Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services to debtor Financial Service Provider’s (FSP) over a whopping debt of over Forty-Two Billion (N42B) Naira.
This follows a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the supervising Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to the telcos as a result of the lingering incidence of debt arising from Financial Service Provider’s (FSP) unpaid use of USSD services to date.
“Further to the Commission’s request for a detailed implementation plan flowing from its referenced direction, we intend to commence withdrawal of USSD services to debtor Financial Service Provider’s (FSP) with effect from Monday 15th by partial withdrawal of service and complete withdrawal of service over a period of Ten (10) days,” Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators Of Nigeria (ALTON), said on behalf of the telcos in a letter addressed to the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta
ALTON however said its members are prepared to negotiate and agree on a suitable payment plan with debtor Financial Service Providers (FSPs), stressing that the good faith it has shown in this regard will be reciprocated, such that the telcos have the required comfort with due regard to managing the twin issues of consumer (end-user) protection and moderated or minimal service disruption.
“We put forward this plan for your kind consideration and endorsement, in line with the Commission’s directive on the implementation of the USSD Determination and your direction to disconnect owing FSPs without delay. We appreciate the tone of urgency underpinning the Commission’s Direction following the directives of the Honourable Minister for Communication & Digital Economy (HMCDE),” the letter dated March 10, added.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators Of Nigeria (ALTON), an umbrella body of all licensed telecom companies in Nigeria, had raised the alarm that obligations due from banks to telecoms companies for USSD services has reached over Forty-Two Billion (N42B) Naira.
With this huge commitment, ALTON believes it is time to withdraw the USSD services, adding that it however remained committed to working closely with the relevant Ministries and regulators to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
It assured that to minimise the disruption to customers, and with the concurrence of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission, on the huge debt to the Network operators; Mobile Network Operators will disconnect debtorFinancial Service Providers (FSPs) from USSD services until the huge debt is paid.
According to ALTON, its members are initiating a phased process of withdrawal of USSD services, starting with the most significant debtors within the Financial Service Providers (FSPs) effective Monday, March 15, 2021.