The decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to charge users of USSD services in Nigeria has commenced.
The charge began on Friday with many users of the services being charged N6.98 for each transaction session.
The CBN and NCC had in March agreed that users of the service will begin to pay. However, the USSD is a critical channel for rendering financial services, especially for those who do not have access to physical banking infrastructure or internet services.
In a statement signed by the CBN and NCC in march, it stated partly: “Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) and all CBN-licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction.”
The decision was part of an agreement reached with deposit money banks following a disagreement between banks and telecom firms over USSD and other text message transaction requests.
Users have noticed the below message when using the service
“Welcome to USSD Banking,” one notice said. “Please note, an N6.98 network charge will be applied to your account for banking services on this channel.”
Meanwhile, the charge will be withdrawn from users’ bank accounts and remitted to mobile network operators, that provide infrastructure for the service to operate.
Many Nigerians took to Twitter early Friday to express their plight over the charges.
“Things are getting harder in this country a whole 6.98 approximately 7.00 to use #USSD,” one Twitter user wrote.
“The general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions,” the CBN and NCC said in its March joint statement.
“The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.”
However, concerns have been raised on how the new charge will affect financial inclusion, specified for those who do not have access to internet services.
“Do they realize that people who mostly use #USSD can’t afford internet-enabled devices talk more of data? Now you’re charging 7 Naira,” another Twitter user, @JimolWest, said.
What is your thought on the USSD charges?