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“Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you,” read a notification MTN sent to customers on Sunday.
Before sending the notice, telcos charged customers per USSD session but this differed across networks, with the highest being N20 per session.
The new charge would have seen customers paying N12 for every minute spent on the USSD channel but a few hours after MTN alerted its subscribers of the development, Isa Pantami, minister of communications, directed telcos to halt the plan.
“The attention of the federal ministry of communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator MTN Niger ia and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019,” he said in a statement, Uwa Suleiman, spokeswoman of the ministry, issued on his behalf.
“The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FllM is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.”
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Banking services were introduced on USSD channels to ensure easier access to banking services.