Nigerian telecom operators are set for a showdown with banks over the latter’s refusal to pay off accumulated debts from the usage of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) which has risen to N80 billion as at November this year.
In a recent telephone interview with THISDAY, the chairman, Association of Licenced Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo disclosed that the telecom operators may soon be forced to withdraw the USSD services from the banks, a move which will leave millions of customers stranded.
“The debt is rising and has not been paid by the banks. As of November 2022, the accumulated debt rose to over N80 billion. When we started the argument in 2019, it was N32 billion, and they continue to claim that they are not owing, but our investigation shows that they are still using the USSD platform to offer banking services to their customers, yet they are not remitting to telecom operators who own the USSD platform,” Adebayo said.
The issue of the banks’ indebtedness to the Telcos has been an ongoing issue for quite a while and as at March 2022, there was a similar warning from the NCC about the looming disconnections by the Telcos if the debt persisted.
The amount owed Telcos was about N42 billion as at March 2022.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the National Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had then, revealed that the indebtedness of the banks to Mobile Network Operators, MNOs had been an issue over time.
While confirming that the NCC was working hard to address the concern, he however, disclosed that the Telcos were expected to recoup their investments in order to continue and to expand the service.
While the NCC chairman, Dambata had warned that the Telcos’ decision to withdraw their services from the banks would not go down well with the FG, the Telcos have also threatened that the banks’ refusal to offset the debt would have negative consequences on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s cashless economy agenda for the country.