Nigerians are fuming over the new N6.98 imposed on bank customers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, saying the new charges were exploitative.
The flat rate per transaction of N6.98 replaced the old per session billing following an agreement between the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission, telecoms and banks in March.
On Thursday, March 3, most customers noticed messages demanding approval for the N6.98 charge per transaction. They also have options to decline.
The service does not require a 3G or 4G network to function making it accessible to all mobile phone users.
“Welcome to USSD Banking. N6.98 network charge will apply to your account for banking services on this channel. Press 737 to accept or 2 to reject,” the message reads.
When doing transfers with the USSD, customers are also charged the usual bank fees.
Mobile Network Operators and Deposit Money Banks have had lingering arguments over the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions.
It led to the suspension of USSD service for MTN Nigeria subscribers in April as the mobile operator reduced banks’ commission from an average of 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
Telecoms firms have also accused banks of owing N42bn for the service.
USSD services are very essential in Africa’s biggest economy especially for both the banking and non-banking populations.
For instance, Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidates use the USSD in the registration process and even to check their results.
The National Identity Number is also linked to SIM cards using the USSD service.
But the pain is more on bank customers who will always need the service for their daily business and domestic transactions.
Reacting on micro-blogging site, Twitter, @floydmontana0, “So are we gonna keep quiet about the 7 naira charged by banks for using the USSD code?”
@_greygirl, “The funny thing about this USSD thing is Nigerians will complain small and adjust and it’ll be the new normal, wonder when people will take action against these mounting taxes, dollar rates skyrocketing, electricity taxes ridiculous, food items insane! And now USSD charges too?”
@EnergyTBM, “There goes a Happy New Month USSD text from the Nigerian Banking Industry to Nigerians.”
@GistPaddy, “Finally, USSD is no longer free to use.”
@meremsamuel, “We haven’t even celebrated one week anniversary of being in the United African Republic, USSD charges have started frustrating us.”
@JustKingss, “This new USSD charge is totally wrong in a time where most of the citizens are struggling financially. Government should look into it.”