The Nigerian Communications Commission has called for an amicable resolution to the discrepancies in USSD charges received by banks and payments made to telecom operators.
The Director of Licensing and Authorisation at NCC, Alhaji Mohammed Babajika, made the call during a webinar themed ‘Financial Inclusion in the New Normal, Leveraging Digital Payments’ hosted by CyberPay Limited on Tuesday.
He said there was a need to constitute a dispute resolution and arbitration channel to address issues emerging from mobile banking.
Babajika explained that after a cost-based study on USSD carried out by the commission and the telecoms operators, N1.63 per session was arrived at for USSD access.
He added that despite the low cost, banks were charging as high as N26.88 per session and paying telecoms operators non-proportionate prices.
“The NCC encouraged collaboration with the CBN by seeking a dispute resolution and arbitration channel to address issues that may arise as a result of convergence of finance and ICT,” he said.
The director added, “NCC has carried out an analysis on the cost of providing USSD services and it was found to be N1.63 per second for one session. It is a cost-based study.
“In other words, the cost to telcos is N1.63 whereas, the banks are charging N26.88 and considering the discrepancies, there is a need for the two parties to come together to agree on a workable sharing formula because these are some of the reports we get from our licensees.
“Banks cannot be making N26.88 per session and pay MNOs an amount that is not commensurate or agreeable as it is now.”
According to Babajika, the relationship between the banks and telecoms operators is not fair considering that the telcos own the subscribers, infrastructure and network frequency used by banks for mobile banking.
The telcos and Nigerian banks have been able to reach an agreement on charges for USSD access since October last year when a dispute broke out between both parties.
Meanwhile, the Head, Digital Financial Services, CBN, Ambore Stephen, at the virtual event stated that recent figures showed that 36.6 million Nigerians were excluded from access to financial services including pension and insurance.
According to him, the CBN revised the national financial inclusion strategy and provided a level playing field for the provision of financial services in order to attain 80 per cent financial inclusion by the end of the year.
“From 2018, we saw new policies from the CBN and the bankers’ committee like the payment service bank licenses that were issued in November 2017 to open up the space for non-traditional players like the telcos, FCMGs or any large retail outlet with large distribution network,” he added.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director, Cyberspace Limited, Joe Onwubuya, noted that with the continued growth in technology adoption, financial inclusion scheme of the CBN had improved over the years.
According to him, every eligible member of the society should have access to financial services irrespective of location and financial status.
Citing a report by Findex compiled by World Bank, merchants of companies that adopt tech to widen, scale-up and ease access to financial services have marked improvements in financial inclusion.