USSD: Nigerian Banks Owe Telecoms Providers N42 Billion, Says NCC Boss.


By Nana Dariem, Abuja


Professor Umar Garba Danbatta


The Executive Vice Chairman, (EVC), of the Nigerian Communication’s Commission (NCC), Professor Danbatta, has disclosed that Nigerian banks owe Telecommunications providers fourth two billion Naira over the use of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

Professor Danbatta disclosed this in Lagos when delivery his lecture at the 5th Annual Bullion Lecture,
Organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism with the theme “Driving Pervasive Broadband Penetration to Deepen Digital Financial Inclusion for Nigeria’s Socio-economic Transformation”

Danbatta said that the USSD platform used by banks is an investment and that someone must pay for the services and that at the moment Banks owe the telecoms providers N42B. And that the NCC will set up a committee to look into the issue.

“USSD that the banks are using for financial transactions is an investment by telecoms providers and someone must pay for it. We will set up a committee to sit with banks and telecoms providers.”

According to him, “USSD channel is a cost-efficient way of delivering financial services to their customers. The banks subsequently applied for and were granted USSD short codes by the Commission to deliver financial services to Nigerians.

“The banks, Other Financial Institutions (OFI) and mobile money operators licensed by the CBN are now leveraging the large number of mobile subscriptions in the country to provide mobile-based financial transactions to Nigerians, leveraging the USSD platform on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)”

He emphasised “the need to boost inclusiveness with respect to access to financial services necessitated the paradigm shift by most countries from simply pursuing financial inclusion to focusing more on digital financial inclusion, by leveraging the digital platforms to provide tailored-made, low-cost financial services to people that are excluded from the formal financial services circle.

”Today, mobile money has been most successful, as one of the means to drive digital financial inclusion, replacing cash transactions for domestic remittances, such as urban workers sending money to rural families. The fastest growing mobile money service is cross-border, led by remittances but with potential to support trade and regional integration. In Central America, Colombia, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines and Tanzania, more remittances are sent by mobile phones than in cash.”

He said the NCC has been actively involved in the actualisation of the Federal Government’s financial inclusion target of 20 per cent exclusion or 80 per cent inclusion by the year 2020. However, a recent report by EFInA indicates that even though its data showed that more people have become financially included, the financial inclusion pace was, however, not matching the country’s population growth rate.

The NCC Boss explained that to achieve an accelerated financial inclusion target that the country desires, even as the population grows, technology and more importantly, broadband, has to play a massively significant role and what I see technology doing in terms of Nigeria’s financial inclusion is actually to democratize access.

According to him, the InfraCo Project can be considered as the beginning of the “Next Level” journey towards achieving the 120,000km target of fibre connectivity set by the current administration.And that the Commission is planning for the nation’s future population growth in the area of SIM provision.

“We have recently begun a process to strategically review the InfraCo framework and its funding options towards ensuring effective implementation of the national fibre project. When fully implemented, it will ensure robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive availability, accessibility and affordability of financial services.”

Danbatta stated that there is a new numbering plan to bridge the current access gaps and in order to provide enough SIM numbers that can be used by Nigerians

“In this era of new and emerging technologies, where most devices and things would be connected within the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, requiring more SIM cards to be used, the NCC, as a proactive regulatory agency, has developed a new numbering plan (NNP) that will serve the needs of 500 million connected Nigerians for the next 30 years,” he added.

Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Centre for Journalism (CJF Nigeria), Mr Segun Aina, said that the COVID-19 pandemic and total lockdown brought home the need for deeper broadband penetration.

Aina reiterated that the availability of Internet connectivity was a big enabler of financial inclusion as traditional and modern banking is giving way to digital banking and online delivery related services.“We are having meetings online, social activities, schooling online and so on.”