The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo today disclosed that the N42 billion indebtedness to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) over the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) has not been forgiven or wished away.

Engr. Adebayo, who was speaking on Arise TV, rather said the issue of the 42.2 billion indebtedness will be sorted out by both the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), stressing that what is more important is the resolution of the protracted dispute by suggesting ways forward.

“What is important at this time is the way forward. The way forward is that telecom consumers will henceforth pay a flat fee of N6.98k per transaction, which has been agreed by both parties,” he said on the TV program monitored by our reporter.

While assuring that ALTON as an umbrella body of all licensed telcos in Nigeria is interested in promoting cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians, Engr. Adebayo noted that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions.

Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) were reported to be owing Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) a whopping debt of over Forty-Two Billion (N42B) Naira on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services, rendered by the telcos.

This led to a threat by the telcos to disconnect the service from the banks. But in a stakeholders’ meeting, which was chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami and attended by the various MNOs, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), DMBs (represented by the Chairman, Body of Bank CEOs) and the sector regulators – Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the stakeholders resolved that effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs and all CBN – licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98k per transaction.

This replaces the current per session billing structure, ensuring a much cheaper average cost for customers to enhance financial inclusion. The stakeholders believe that this approach is transparent and will ensure the amount remains the same, regardless of the number of sessions per transaction.


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