Customers of Nigerian banks risk losing access to the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) of the firms, as MTN Nigeria, Airtel and other telecommunications company threaten to shut it down.
Nigerian banks are said to be owing network providers about N80 billion due to the USSD service provided by the telecommunications firms. Last year, the debt was N42 billion.
During an ICT Growth Conference on Thursday, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said the banks are trying to avoid payment of their debt.
He said if the network providers were the ones owing the banks, the lenders would have recovered the debt. Adebayo, who head the association that also includes Glo and 9mobile disclosed that the telcos only option to recover the debt might be to disconnect the banks from the USSD platform.
This will prevent Nigerians from using the USSD code of their banks. Recall that the same threat had been made last year by the network providers in 2021, after they accused the banks of refusing to pay the debt.
Both parties settled their grievances after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) intervened.
In a new development, Adebayo said “The banks would want us to be silent about the USSD debt, but it is not going away until they pay. At the last count, the debt is now N80 billion.
“Some banks are responding while others are not. We are nearing that time when we have no choice but to discontinue the provisions of services to banks.”
He added that, “I think it is dishonorable that our colleagues in that sector know that they have an obligation to service providers and are shying away from it.
“Banks remove charges from their customers but refuse to pay telecom operators. You don’t expect us to keep rendering services when you don’t pay.
“The irony of it is that if it was the other way round you can’t owe the bank a cent.”
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