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NCC begins USSD pricing regimes for banks, betting services, others

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Nigerian Communications Commission PHOTO:Twitter

• Banks to pay N10m for shortcode licence, renewal
• Commission alerts on cloned Facebook account

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has begun a pricing regime for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), otherwise known as shortcodes used by the banks and other commercial organisations to offer mobile financial services and other similar services, The Guardian learnt.

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The new pricing regime, according to a document titled “New Pricing Regime for National Numbering & Short Codes” obtained from the commission yesterday, takes effect from January 1, 2021.

The Guardian learnt that before now, the commission was not charging institutions, especially the banks, for using shortcodes to provide financial services, as this helps to deepen digital financial inclusion.

However, this latest action by the NCC, it was learnt, has become necessary in view of the huge economic benefits, as well the premium services that organisations now deploy the USSD service for which has a lot of commercial gains.

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Another reason for the new regime was based on the need for effective utilisation of the shortcodes as a national resource for effective benefits to all Nigerians.

Also, the purpose of the national numbering plan, as gathered from the commission, is to set up a uniform numbering scheme and the associated dialling procedures to be used in the network to allow subscribers and operators set up calls.

In the document, the telecoms regulator said that shortcodes for premium codes would attract N2.5 million for allocation, while renewal would still be N2.5 million. Insurance operators to get code will pay N5 million and renew with N5 million.

For the banks, shortcodes will attract N10 million as allocation fee, while renewal fee is fixed at N10 million. Non-core financial institutions, it is N6 million allocation fee and N6 million renewal fee. Micro-Finance banks will pay N500,000 and N500,000 for renewal.

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The commission also said allocation fee would be free for Value Added Service providers, but players in the sub-sector would pay a renewal fee of N200,000. For Entertainment (Big Brother Nigeria), allocation fee is N10 million, while renewal fee is pegged at N10 million. For other entertainment shortcodes, it will cost N2.5 million, and another N2.5 million for renewal.

For lottery operators, NCC said allocation fee is N10 million and renewal is N10 million. The same goes for betting service operators. Gaming operators are also expected to pay N200,000 and another N200,000 for renewal. Whereas, short-duration codes, especially for seasonal promotions, NCC pegged allocation fee at N250, 000 and renewal N250, 000.

In another development, the commission, yesterday, alerted members of the public that it had discovered a spurious Facebook account purporting to be that of the commission.

The discovery was in the course of its regular online surveillance aimed at protecting telecoms consumers and industry stakeholders.

NCC, in a statement signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said it had, however, contacted Facebook Team to take down the fake account.

It, therefore, advised members of the public to disregard the Facebook Page and its content in their entirety.

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