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South Africa’s MTN frustrating Nigeria’s SMEs

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MTN is stifling the progress of Nigeria’s small and medium-sized enterprises by ensuring that access to airtime and data through simple technology is cumbersome. With the increase in the transfer charges on USSD, MTN is looking to drive Nigerian SMEs who sell data and airtime out of business.

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MTN has also compelled SMEs who aggregate data and airtime sales to push only MTN platforms while at the same time cutting down commissions on sales but that is not all, there is the issue of privacy policy.

With MTN Nigeria, your personal information is not safe. Why is that? MTN is insisting that most of their customers use their own (MTN) apps or application to buy recharge for both voice and data services because they want to collect as much personal information from customers as possible.

This means MTN can share your details which includes your phone number, Bank Verification Number amongst others to third parties for targeted advertising and possibly phishing. Do you still receive unsolicited SMS on your MTN line? That is because MTN is sharing your phone numbers with companies that are willing to pay for it.

These companies then target you even though you never requested for their service. You will notice that you randomly receive SMS from companies asking you to take quick loans or even luring you to enter into a competition where you can win millions of naira.

There are two things involved. The first is that MTN has made its customers vulnerable and has stepped up its game by insisting that you use their own applications like MTNTopit and MoMo channels to transact. This helps them monitor your transactions as well as monitor your browsing history.

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Secondly, as an organization, MTN has shown gross negligence to customers who do not use smartphones, as a matter of fact, they did not factor such customers into their nefarious plans. Instead of encouraging more customers to embrace USSD, they are pushing them back into the era when we used to buy paper recharge cards.

The question is simple, is this obtainable in South Africa? Why is Nigeria the guinea pig for MTN’s callous scheme? Why is MTN making life harder for Nigerians and why are they selling personal information to third parties?

The privacy policy of MTN is one that is not customer friendly, so how then have they been able to get away with it? What exactly are the regulatory agencies doing? What is the role and functions of the Nigerian Communications Commission? Why is MTN allowed to get away with things like this?

Remember when MTN aided terrorism and was fined by the Nigerian government? For some reasons, they were allowed to get away with it. How does the NCC explains how $5.2 billion fine was reduced to a paltry sum? Is the Nigerian government culpable? Is the Nigerian government concerned about the safety of its citizen?

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The NCC has been slow in reacting to some of the monopolistic actions by the MTN. In a circular, MTN asked their customer service agents to pacify customers, why? Why is MTN asking customer service agents to pacify Nigerians if it has not committed any atrocious act?

“Please be informed that some of MyCustomers may not be able to purchase airtime and data recharges via banks including MOD and myMTN App.

“Please pacify MyCustomers and educate them to use MTNTopit, MoMo channels, as well as the debit card options on MOD or myMTN app.”

The above quotes is from the MTN circular which clearly explains that MTN has a heinous plan and how being allowed to perpetuate it, thanks to the failing of the regulatory agency, in this case, NCC.

Some of you will remember how Cambridge Analytica and Facebook colluded to selling the personal information of users and how it backfired? Nigerians must rise up in one voice and put an end to the monopolistic and oligarchy mentality of MTN.

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We want to buy data and we want to continue to do it using our USSD, we do not want to use MTN apps that will enable MTN have more of our information and sell them to third parties.

In conclusion, every Nigerian must note that their information is not safe on the MTN apps and if we do not kick against it, then they have us where they want us.

Cletus Okoye, a tax consultant from Onitsha, Anambra.

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