Fresh Crisis Looms as Banks USSD Debt to Telcos Hits N80 billion – TechEconomy Nigeria

Fresh crisis is brewing between Financial Service Providers (FSPs) in Nigeria and the telecommunications operators.

The telcos on Thursday accused banks of not able to pay-up for services rendered under the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) as the debt has to N80 billion reported from N42 billion last year.

This is even as they alleged that the banks are not cooperating in paying the debt despite interventions from the government.

Gbenga Adebayo, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), hinted on this on Thursday at the ICT Growth Conference organized by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA).

He said the operators are uncomfortable with the attitude of the banks towards settling the debts, adding that ALTON members are already considering disconnecting some of the banks from the networks.

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.”

“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,” he added.

Recall that, the telecommunication operators made similar threats in 2021 to withdraw USSD services to Financial Service Providers FSPs over their inability to pay N42billion debt they owe the telecommunication service companies.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) then introduced new charges for customers using the USSD.

A joint statement regulator issued by the Financial and Telecommunications led to customer paying a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction every time they use USSD services.

The charges were part of the agreements after banks and telecommunication operators met on Monday to discuss the N42bn debt owed mobile operators by banks.

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