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USSD and Why Nigeria’s Finest Banking Product Must be Saved with Telcos

USSD and Why Nigeria’s Finest Banking Product Must be Saved with Telcos

It is a very big paralysis and we hope this does not happen. Yes, “Nigerian mobile network providers will stop their Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to banks until the financial service providers clear a total of N120 billion ($259 million) debt they accumulated in about nine years.” 

Good People, when you see Aneke the bird dancing by the roadside, pay attention, someone is playing the drum. The amazing USSD system which has advanced Nigerian banking is possible because of the telcos.  It would be very bad if that drum stops playing; it must not happen. A service level agreement ought to have defined payment and compensation.

The telcos need to be compensated and those comparing the US system with Nigeria do not understand the differences in the two systems. In the US, most phone lines are under contracts, and those not under contracts require that you have credits to receive calls and messages. 

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So, if your bank is sending a payment confirmation, you will “pay” to receive it, and that means the telcos are paid by you. In Nigeria, you do not need to have credits to receive calls or messages, creating  an entirely different scenario for the compensation of telcos.

My recommendation? Banks should ask for discounts for regular messaging service and send some money to telcos. Someone has to pay the telcos, but it must be discounted due to the volume involved here. Nigerian telecom users must not be asked to cover these fees since by design, receiving messages in Nigeria have always been free! And initiating USSD transactions largely happen from the banks’ side.


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1 THOUGHT ON USSD and Why Nigeria’s Finest Banking Product Must be Saved with Telcos

  1. This issue has always been there, but it appears to be that every two years or so, it’s brought to the front burner, and after some back and forth, with accusations and counter accusations, everyone goes back to sleep.

    The USSD improves banks’ customer service experience, but the banks seem to see it as their own share of entitlement, something well embedded in our culture of anyhowness.

    Nobody wants to pay for anything they enjoy receive or enjoy here, the banks don’t want to pay telcos; tenants don’t want to pay landlords; energy consumers don’t want to pay providers; even those who borrow money from you don’t want to pay; the malaise is palpable everywhere.

    Nothing is normal here, it just requires some sort of special exorcism to see if some progress can be made, when it comes to payment compliance. No ordinary day in Nigeria.

    If the banks don’t know how to factor the money they ought to send to telcos in their cost of doing business column, we can help them with profit sharing formula, being unnecessarily greedy is never a virtue.

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