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USSD debt: Telcos threaten to withdraw service, say banks owing N200bn

The Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has threatened to withdraw unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), noting that commercial banks owe it N200bn debt.Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of ALTON, said this during the first telecoms stakeholders’ meeting with Aminu Maid, executive vice-chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in Lagos.In September, Umar Danbatta, the former executive vice-chairman of NCC said the debt was N120 billion, but Adebayo said the debts owned by banks had increased to N200 billion.

According to him,although there had been talks on the issue, no considerable action was taken on the part of the banks.

Adebayo said the debt must be paid in total, noting that “telcos would not hesitate to block debtor banks from accessing the service anytime soon”.

“In spite of all appeals, meetings and interventions by the ministry of communications, innovation and digital economy, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and NCC, mainly during the last administration, the banks have kept mute over payment,” he said.

“If operators had to shut down their services, bank customers would no longer be able to carry out transactions such as fund transfers through shortcodes, check bank details and account balances, among others, through their mobile phones.”

Adebayo noted that the value of the debt would keep rising based on the foreign exchange challenges in the country, adding that the matter needed to be resolved as fast as possible to avoid the collapse of the sector.

According to him, the debt was not allowing operators to further expand services.

Deposit money banks (DMO) and telecom operators have been at odds since 2019 over the non-remittance of USSD fees


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