Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country are not indebted to MTN Nigeria and other phone companies for using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platforms to provide payment services, the Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe has said. Bloomberg yesterday quoted him as saying on an investor call on Thursday that: “There is no such thing as an obligation due from banks to telcos.
We chose not to make a public statement out of it because it is not appropriate for us to be found fighting with telcos in public.” Wigwe is the chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs that has been in discussion with MTN Nigeria to resolve a dispute that led some banks to cut off the company from their banking platforms last week. This was after MTN, the nation’s biggest telecom services provider, reduced a commission charged on airtime purchases through banking channels by almost half to 2.5%. The action against MTN was an escalation of an ongoing dispute between lenders and telcos in Africa’s largest economy over fees chargeable on services carried out on each others’ platforms.
Telecom operators through their umbrella union, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, threatened last month to disconnect banks from providing payment services on telco platforms until they paid a N42 billion debt allegedly due to its members from end-user billing. The threat was called off after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy intervened in the dispute leading to an agreement to charge a fixed amount and also settle any indebtedness for past services.