NCC Reviews USSD Pricing
The Nigerian Communications Commission has reviewed unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) pricing with intents to protect consumers and guard the telecoms sector.
According to the regulator, the
amendment was necessary due to a protracted dispute between Mobile Network Operators and Financial Institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami said that he took the decision to suspend the commencement of end-user billing (where the consumers are charged directly from their airtime balance for use of USSD channels as opposed to corporate billing where the banks paid the MNOs for the use of USSD service) because he was “Genuinely besieged with a barrage of complaints at the attempted commencement of end-user billing by service providers.
“USSD is a service to banks and not to the telecom consumers, and as such, banks should see themselves as corporate customers of telecom operators with a duty to pay for using the telecom network and infrastructure, including USSD channels extended to them for service delivery to their customers.
“Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have no direct relationship to bank customers, and cannot, therefore, charge directly for usage of USSD channel.”
Meanwhile, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Garba Danbatta reiterated that in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, the commission revised the determination previously issued by removing the Price Floor and the Cap to allow the Mobile Network Operators and the banks negotiate rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.
The NCC also determined that Mobile Network Operators must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing. The transaction should be between the MNOs and the entity to which the service is provided (Banks and Financial Institutions).