- USSD Charges: ‘Banks Are Biggest Beneficiaries’, Telcos Insist
Telecommunication companies have reacted to the Bank CEO’s statement on alleged double-billing for financial transactions through the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) channel.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operator of Nigeria (ALTON) said the banks are the biggest beneficiaries of the USSD charges.
MTN Nigeria had recently sent a message to subscribers that it will start charging them for USSD access to banking services.
“Yello, please note that from October 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for the USSD access to banking services. Thank you,” the message reads.
However, Body of Bank CEOs on Monday denied having any knowledge of the direct USSD access charge to customers.
“Our attention has been drawn to SMS sent on Saturday, October 19, by MTN Nigeria Communications PLC (“MTN”) to customers of banks in Nigeria in respect of the above.
“That the banks did not ask MTN to start charging customers as contained in the text message. The decision on whether, and what amount, to charge a customer for accessing USSD is entire that of the telco company, in the same way, a customer is billed for calls, SMS, and data.
“MTN is the only Telco that is yet to implement end-user billing which is the standard practice for customer-initiated transactions. This is despite the fact that the banks, working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have engaged MTN over a period of more than one year to try and bring down the cost of USSD to aid financial inclusion.
“That the banks are determined to pursue the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the Federal Government of Nigeria and will continue to advocate that Telcos identify wholeheartedly with this laudable initiative and implement transparent and low pricing model in the use of USSD access codes.
Reacting on Tuesday, the telcos in a letter signed by the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo said the “fact that the biggest beneficiaries in the USSD value chain are the banks and that the allegation of destroying the financial inclusion strides by our members are unfounded.
“It will be impossible to connect Automated Teller Machines and Point of Sale terminals across the length and breadth of Nigeria without our members’ dedication and support.
“In addition, the cashless policy drive and the instant payment solution of the financial sector would not have been possible without our members’ support.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to suspend the USSD plan by MTN.
Some telcos had reportedly initiated end-user billing for the USSD transactions due to the suspension of corporate billing by the banks.
ALTON described the end-user billing as an indirect methodology by banks in charging the USSD access fees.
“Why will the banks charge customers and not share the cost with the operators and you don’t expect the operators to charge customers? Banks continue to take the money without giving anything to the operators.”
“Given that the USSD channel has become an established and most preferred channel for the banks especially for the banked population, we state that asking the customer to pay for the USSD is akin to requesting a customer to pay a bank’s landlord access fees prior to gaining access to banking premises.”
The Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele also said: “I opposed it and I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen; the banks gave this business to the telecoms companies, and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.”
DLM Capital Group Announces Winner For its 2021 Pegasus Fintech Challenge
Leading Developmental Investment institution, DLM Capital Group through its digital banking subsidiary “SOFRI” has announced EazyChange as the winner of the first edition of its Fintech pitch competition tagged- Pegasus Fintech Challenge. The front runner EazyChange who emerged winner is a fintech startup with focus on creating easy cash payments for transportation in Nigeria. OgaPOS emerged as the first runner up, EsusuAfrica as second runner up and Friendsvow as the third runner up.
The pitch event which was held on Wednesday 28th of July 2021 at the DLM Capital Group headquarters in Ikoyi saw the finalists present their pitches to the panel of judges which consisted of the Group CEO, DLM Capital Group, Sonnie Ayere; Managing Director of Links Microfinance Bank, Funsho Idowu; Chief Executive Officer of Cowrywise, Razaq Ahmed; Chief Operating Officer of TeamApt, Tobi Amira; Team lead Design and Innovation Lab at Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Omolola Tunde-Alade; and Senior M&A Executive at Interswitch Group, Victor Sada who represented the Group’s CEO, Mitchell Elegbe.
TeamApt’s COO, Tobi Amira expressed his satisfaction with DLM Capital for organizing the challenge. “It was a delight to sit as a member of the judging panel for the 2021 Pegasus Fintech challenge. The program aligns with our objective as an organization to encourage innovation and creativity in the Nigerian fintech landscape. It was particularly exciting to see and listen to young Nigerian founders who have come together to build solutions aimed at improving the lives of individuals and businesses in Nigeria for the better. I must also commend the organizers of this pitch for making an effort to promote and encourage innovation through funding and support. It’s our hope that the winners would put the funds to good use and bring all their fantastic ideas to reality”.
The Managing Director of Links Microfinance Bank, Funsho Idowu commented in his closing remarks that the ‘Pegasus Fintech Challenge was a huge success, and we are happy to provide this support to fintech startups in Nigeria as a way of enabling growth in the industry. We look forward to hosting subsequent editions with strategic partnerships from other players in Nigeria’s financial sector.’
The Pegasus Fintech Challenge was executed in partnership with tech accelerator, African Fintech Foundry and is a part of DLM Capital’s commitment to accelerate seed funding and investments in the Nigerian fintech space. The Fintech pitch event had 35 submissions where the top 5 finalists emerged for the pitch day event.
SWIFT Launches SWIFT Go, a Fast, Cost-effective Service for Low-value Cross-border Payments
New service enables businesses and consumers to send payments in seconds with full transparency and strong security; SWIFT Go is a key building block in the co-operative’s strategy to enable instant and frictionless cross-border transactions; Seven leading global banks already live with the service.
SWIFT today announces the launch of SWIFT Go, a transformative new service that enables small businesses and consumers to send fast, predictable, highly secure, and competitively priced low-value cross-border payments anywhere in the world, direct from their bank accounts. Seven global banks, which collectively handle 33 million low-value cross-border payments per year, are already live with the service.
SWIFT Go enables financial institutions to offer a seamless payments experience for low value transactions often initiated by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to pay suppliers overseas and by consumers sending money to friends and family internationally. Using tighter service level agreements between institutions and pre-validation of data, SWIFT Go enables banks to provide their end customers a fast and predictable payments experience with upfront visibility on processing times and costs.
The SWIFT Go service builds on the high-speed rails of SWIFT gpi, which have transformed the speed and predictability of high-value payments. The service marks another milestone in SWIFT’s strategy to enable instant and frictionless transactions from one account to another, across SWIFT’s network that connects more than 11,000 institutions, and 4 billion accounts across 200 countries worldwide. It will further strengthen the capabilities of banks to serve their customers in the high-growth small business and consumer payments segments.
Stephen Gilderdale, Chief Product Officer, at SWIFT said: “SWIFT Go is a further step towards achieving our vision of enabling anybody, anywhere, to send money instantly and securely around the world. The new service is a direct response to the needs of small businesses and consumers for fast, easy, predictable, secure and competitively priced cross-border payments. Our new service will allow banks to compete effectively in one of the fastest growing segments of the payments market, delivering a seamless experience for their customers.”
SWIFT Go was developed in close collaboration with the global SWIFT community and is underpinned by several key pillars:
- Speed: Tighter service levels between banks increase speed. A single payment format increases straight-through processing, while services such as pre-validation remove frictions that cause delays.
- Predictability: The amount, time, fees and FX rate of a payment are known in advance. The sender and receiver of a payment can track the status in real-time.
- Easy to use: The user experience is simple and streamlined, with data requirements known upfront. Strict network validation provides for easy initiation and processing of SWIFT Go payments
- Competitive prices: Processing fees are agreed between financial institutions upfront so they can provide their customers with full transparency; increased straight-through processing further reduces processing costs.
- Security: Senders and receivers have peace of mind that payments are underpinned by the strong security of the SWIFT network. Seven leading global banks are now using SWIFT Go live: BBVA; Bank of New York Mellon; DNB; MYBank; Sberbank; Société Générale, and UniCredit.
Raouf Soussi, Head of Enterprise Payments Strategy of Client Solutions, BBVA said: “BBVA is very excited to be one of the first banks to sign up to SWIFT Go and we recognise the potential of this solution to revolutionise the way SMEs and consumers move money around the world. We have listened closely to our customers and we know how much they value a secure service that ensures payments reach their destination quickly and seamlessly.”
Isabel Schmidt, Head of Direct Clearing and Asset Account Services Products, Bank of New York Mellon said: “It’s no secret that for many years consumers and small businesses have been running into varying pain points when transacting international payments. These challenges have included opaque costs and lack of certainty on how quickly funds are delivered to the final beneficiary. This is why BNY Mellon is pleased to be the first US bank to go live with SWIFT Go, a new service that overcomes all of these challenges and assists financial institutions in delivering a competitive, seamless, fast and predictable payments experience to their customers.”
Feng Liang, Deputy CEO, MYBank said: “SWIFT gpi has become the benchmark for high-value cross-border transactions and we are confident that SWIFT Go will be equally as transformative for SME payments. By providing for instant, seamless transactions within one of the highest growth areas of our industry, we expect that adoption of SWIFT Go will be widespread and that it will quickly be established as the industry standard for lower value transactions.”
Jean-François Mazure, Head of Cash Clearing and Correspondent Banking, Société Générale said: “As customer expectations for faster payments evolve, the correspondent banking industry requires a solution to more competitively process SME and consumer payments. SWIFT Go fits perfectly with it, allowing us to provide an outstanding experience to our customers with predictable, seamless, and frictionless low-value cross-border transactions reaching beneficiaries accounts quicker than ever.”
Raphael Barisaac, Global Head of Cash Management, Global Co-Head of Trade, UniCredit said: “UniCredit has long been a keen supporter of innovations within payments that deliver excellent outcomes for end-customers, and as such we are very proud of our involvement in SWIFT Go. This is a service that will lead to real benefits for SMEs and consumers, allowing them to enjoy the speed, predictability and transparency that SWIFT gpi has brought to high-value transactions.”
Bank of America, Coinbase Ventures Invested in Paxos’ $300M Funding Round
Paxos – a provider of blockchain infrastructure – said Bank of America, crypto exchange FTX, Founders Fund and Coinbase Ventures were among a heavyweight list of investors in its $300 million Series D funding round, the firm disclosed on Thursday.
Oak HC/FT led the funding round, which the nine-year-old company announced in late April at a valuation of $2.4 billion. The round also included PayPal Ventures and Mithril Capital, among others. The firm has raised more than $540 million over multiple funding rounds.
The company noted that Bank of America joined the Paxos Settlement Service earlier this year. The platform uses blockchain technology to achieve the same-day settlement of stock trades.
“We’re defining this space and are excited to grow our enterprise solutions besides these market leaders,” Paxos CEO and co-founder Charles Cascarilla said in a press release.
Paxos started providing infrastructure for PayPal’s crypto service last year, which has extended to PayPal’s Venmo payments app. Credit Suisse, fintech Revolut and Societe Generale are among other customers.
In an April interview with CoinDesk, Cascarilla called the latest funding round “confidence capital” that would give customers certainty that Paxos would “be around for the next five to 10 years.”
In a statement, Founders Fund partner Napoleon Ta called Paxos “a trusted operator in blockchain-based financial market infrastructure,” highlighting “its commitment to regulation, reliability and security for enterprises entering digital asset markets.”
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