Good policy from the government. You know I am biased when it comes to the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC). I do think it is the most effective public agency in Nigeria. Check – they always have brilliant leaders. They have a really good process – and they listen. This is another good one, and I think NCC needs to be commended for listening. If a bank does not want USSD service, telcos are free to cut it off. But if it wants, then, it needs to pay the telcos for the service. But never should customers be asked to cover that cost directly when the same banks will tell you to use digital channels. You get it – banks might introduce another monthly charge; that is fine. But as it stands, customers are not paying directly.
The USSD channel has evolved over time from a telco-exclusive channel used for only telco services such as balance inquiry and recharges to a channel for the deployment of a broad spectrum of services, including financial, insurance, agricultural, government services and more. The use of USSD channel has become a critical resource in the economy even more so in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic that has witnessed a rise in reliance on digital services.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, has 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 (i.e. Banks and Financial Institutions).