Telecommunications companies and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have resolved their disagreement over the debt rising from the billing of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
The banks were owing the network providers N120 billion from the use of the USSD platform, which is charged on a corporate billing rather than end-user billing as preferred by the DMBs.
On Thursday, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Umar Danbatta, stated that the intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Fola Shonubi, led to the settlement.
Speaking at the Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum (TERF) held in Lagos, Danbatta said Shonubi assisted in resolving the confrontation because he knows that without the telcos, the CBN's financial inclusion programme would not have achieved about 70 per cent.
According to the NCC chief, disagreement over the billing system led to the increase in the debt, “The USSD service is being provided to the banks, who in turn provide the service to their customers. The question was who should be paying for the service.
“They wanted end-user billing, but we said the service is being provided to the banks, not to their customers.
“The banks charge their customers for the service, and they are to pay the telcos in the form of corporate billing, which is neat.
“Then along the way, there was a misunderstanding and the debt kept piling until it reached a humongous amount of over N100 billion.
READ ALSO: Telcos may shut down bank USSD services from March 15 over N42bn debt
“Even at that, the service was still being provided to customers by the banks using the telecom infrastructure and the telcos were being paid nothing. This was despite the intervention of the immediate past Minister,” he noted.
Revealing the reason the CBN and the banks came to an agreement with the telcos, Danbatta stated: “Digital financial inclusion index or penetration is currently about 70% because it is telco driven.
“And as such, there shouldn't be any problem paying for the service. No service is free. Pay the telcos, that's all we ask. Okay, and as we're saying, Now, pay them for the debt, the accumulated debt, and then pay them for the service they are rendering as we speak.
“At a meeting between the acting CBN governor, the NCC, the telcos and the banks, it was acknowledged that the debt exists, that going forward, the service has to be paid for by the banks through corporate billing.
“It is an important development for the telecoms industry that we have found an amicable resolution to the problem because we're all serving the same government. We do not want to disrupt financial services in the country.
“We want to see the financial inclusion penetration to even go higher. We want it to be ubiquitous, but we cannot do this without settling the legacy debt, as well as paying for the service that is being provided.”
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