No resolution on N120 billion USSD debt yet
•Telecom operators processed 109.7m-minute roaming
Information available to The Guardian has revealed that the dispute over the N120 billion unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) debts owed telcos by deposit money banks (DMBs) is far from being resolved.
Telecom operators and banks have been at loggerheads on the debt accumulated from 2019 over the failure of the latter to make payment for the services, which run on telecoms infrastructure.
USSD is used for financial transactions such as transfers, bill payments and airtime recharges.
A source in one of the affected mobile network operators (MNOs) and privy to the meetings to resolve the impasse told The Guardian: “I am not sure we have arrived at a resolution, but discussions are all going, and parties are looking at all options that confront us.”
Further, the source added: “As to whether banks are more disposed towards resolution. The answer is yes, much more than they have ever been. But I think it is work-in-progress. I am hopeful that with the intervention of the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Folasodun Sonubi and the leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), following the joint advisory that they issued to the two players, I think that if we can follow through, we should be able to have a final resolution.”
The source said the parties met at the highest level, both at the level of the Bankers’ Committee and also at the level of the telecoms association and the two regulators, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the CBN.
He revealed that an advisory, which is not privy to the public yet, was issued at the meeting after both parties stated their facts.
According to him, “We are following the letters of the advisory and hoping that we can have some landing, when we reach a solution, we will as telecoms Industry and the DMBs issue a joint resolution statement. We are not yet there. I can’t say the issues have been resolved, money has not been paid… but there is progress being made on all sides and we hope that this progress will result in a final resolution of the lingering crises.”
The source revealed that the telecoms operators expected some traction by the first week of August, “now we are in the middle, what we expected has not happened, but maybe by the end of August, we can say some things have come in or that they will supply. But as I speak to you today, nothing has come in. I cannot reveal the content of the Advisory because of the sensitivity of the matters.”
While no figure has been declared again as accumulated debt, the source noted that the debt had continued to increase due to continued patronage of the USSD channels. Checks showed that on every transaction, the banks charge customers N6.
Meanwhile, as of December 2022, the NCC put the total number of mobile roaming minutes at 109,786,336.3.
Specifically, outgoing and incoming for the mobile operators were 41,595,210.26 and 68,191,126.04 minutes respectively.
Indeed, MTN posted the highest incoming and outgoing minutes of 51,642,575 and 29,276,904 respectively. Globacom, 1,520, 507 outgoing and 3,295,542 incoming roaming minutes; Airtel, 9,888,649 outgoing and 4,509,034 incoming and 9mobile, 909,150.26 outgoing and 8,743,975 incoming roaming minutes.
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