Nigerian banks have indicated that they will commence the deduction of a flat fee of N6.58 for every banking transaction carried out on all Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) banking platforms.
However, some banks have released notification to their customers about the commencement of the charges of N6.98 for every USSD transactions. The fee will be deducted by banks without any further recourse to the customers and remitted in full to the telecoms companies.
A message from some of the banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank and Fidelity Bank on ‘Update on USSD transactions’ stated, “Please be informed that you are now required to pay a fee of N6.98 to your mobile network provider for every banking transaction carried out on all USSD banking platforms.
This means that when you send money to anyone through the use of USSD, a fee of N6.98 will be charged to your bank account, which is in turn remitted in full by your bank, to your mobile network provider.
USSD is a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) protocol that is used to send text messages. USSD is similar to Short Message Service (SMS) but in the banking industry, allows users without a smartphone or data/internet connection to access mobile banking through the use of codes. USSD-based mobile banking can be used for fund transfers, checking account balance, generating bank statement, with other uses.
According to the report, airtime and data purchases through USSD are exempt from this charge on USSD platforms.
The banks stated they have provided alternative platforms for customers to have free options for their electronic and digital banking transactions, including various self-service mobile banking apps.
However, experts indicated that excessive charges by banks could advance to a threat to financial inclusion.
According to the experts, it was also noted that it will increase cash transactions because many bank customers would try to avoid using the USSD for transactions and discourage the population’s unbanked segment because they would not like to pay such charges over their little deposits.
Banks however remain silent concerning the news on alleged indebtedness due to previous USSD transactions
The notification of commencement of deduction of the fee came after it was reported that total debts owed by banks to telecoms service providers arising from the use of USSD had risen from N42 billion to N47 billion.
The report stated that the huge debts came as a result of deductions made by way of commission by the banks during banking transactions but were never remitted to the telecoms operators that own the infrastructure on which the transactions rode.
by our reporter.