Bank transactions depending on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes will be disconnected in Nigeria from 7.00 pm today, Saturday following the failure of the banks to resolve a mounting debt burden now estimated at N120 billion.
These are transactions done on the mobile phones like fund transfers through short codes, checking of bank details and account balances, among others done even without data or internet connections.
It was gathered authoritatively that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has given the telecom companies (telcos), in Nigeria go-ahead to withdraw their USSD services to the banks, following growing debt, Vanguard reports.
It was also gathered authoritatively that to broker peace the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy had called a meeting between the NCC, telcos and the banks on Thursday, hoping to find a middle ground, but the banks and their regulator shunned the meeting.
Apparently, for that reason, the Minister permitted the NCC to grant operators request to disconnect the banks from the USSD codes with a possible impact across Nigeria.
It will be recalled that the telcos and banks have had a running dispute over debts accrued from unpaid charges agreed to the telcos on whose platforms the USSD services emanate to service the bank customers.
Several interventions have been made between the NCC, CBN, and relevant ministries, yet the debt profile allegedly keeps rising instead of depleting.
While telcos consistently say banks are nonchalant over their payment obligations to them, the banks in turn appear not to have any defence to why the debts keep accumulating.
As at the last two interventions by the NCC, CBN and Minister of Communications between 2020 and 2022 the debt profiles were between N42 billion and N80 billion.
But today a reliable source from the operators said it has climbed above N120 billion, vowing that nothing will stop them from withdrawing the services tonight.
The threat by the telecos to disconnect the banks from the USSD codes could have a wide impact given the increased use of telephone banking in Nigeria in recent times.