The New USSD Charge in Nigeria

The New USSD Charge in Nigeria

There have been discussions going on for a while, on whether Nigerians actually pay their taxes at all or whether actually in reality they are being over taxed. This also depends on what you consider to be a tax. Anyway, permit me to  slightly move away from that, but not completely out of the topic.

Recently some of you may have seen messages like this from your network provider:

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info.”

And this:

“Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.”

And the deductions continue for the average Nigerian. The list continues, from the card maintenance fees to so many other bank charges that are unexplainable. Oh! what difference does a little deduction make?  Many would ask. Trust me I don’t even know as well if it does make any difference or even if it is legal in the first place.

I expect some of these things to be challenged by Nigerians,  not because those deductions are so burdensome, but actually so that the populace cannot be seen as docile and easygoing accepting anything without questioning. Yes, things like this should be questioned.  Things like this has to be tested and stretched to its full measure in the right places, probably the law court or through the legislature.

On the other hand, it may be time to embrace those banking Apps.

Either way I see it playing out in favour  of the two big players if eventually it comes to stay. Banking apps run on mobile data, and that would mean more revenue for the data providers who happens to be the same telecommunication firms.  Also downloading Mobile Apps belonging to banks for the sake of transactions will also be good business for the banks.

At the moment, the government has stepped in and all we can do is to watch eagerly as it unfolds. According to the Guardian, “Nigerian government on Sunday ordered the immediate suspension of the proposed Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) charges on customers who uses them.”

So far the minister of communication Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami claims he is ignorant of the development, and has ordered its suspension until his office is fully briefed.

“The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed,”  That’s according to the spokesman to the minister Uwa Suleiman .

While many are seeing this for the first time, many Bank customers have been experiencing these ussd deductions for a long time now and are quite surprised that they have been all alone in all this. So should customers actually pay for these services? Hopefully in the coming days a clearer perspective will emerge on what exactly the case should be and how.  The Anticipation continues.

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