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Banking Sector

Banks USSD Debts to Telcos Hit N47 Billion

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USSD - Investors King

The total debts owed by banks to telecommunications service providers arising from the use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) have risen from N42 billion to N47billion.

USSD is a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) protocol that is used to send text messages. USSD is similar to Short Message Service (SMS) but in the banking industry, allows users without a smartphone or data and internet connection to do mobile banking through the use of codes. USSD-based mobile banking can be used for fund transfers, checking account balance, generating bank statement, among other uses.

The huge debts came as a result of deductions made by way of commission by the banks during the course of banking transactions but were never remitted to the telecoms operators that own the infrastructure on which the transactions rode.

An industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented the helplessness of the operators to take a decisive action on the issue.

“The debts have grown sharply from N42 billion to N47 billion and it will continue to grow because bank customers will continue to use our platform to carry out convenient banking services. The impact of the N47 billion debt on the industry is significant, especially now that private and public organisations are counting the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the source said.

According to the source, banks are emboldened by the support they are getting from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, adding that it is that support that has bred impunity.

“Unfortunately, after the last spat we had the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, Emefiele, the banks CEOs and the MNOs met to settle the matter. The resolution was that the status quo ante be retained.This regulatory intervention has tied the hands of the MNOs because they would not want to be seen as being recalcitrant. The MNOs wish they too could get the type of support the banks are getting,” the source added.

Early last month, the banks denied being indebted to MTN Nigeria and other MNOs for using telecommunication platforms to provide payment services.

“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,” Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, had said on an investor call in Lagos.

Wigwe is the head of a team 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 West African nation’s biggest telecom services provider, reduced a commission charged on airtime purchases through banking channels by almost half to 2.5 per cent.

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, had maintained that at a meeting with CBN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) terms of the settlement had been discussed and would be agreed in an MoU with both regulators.

“We also don’t want to join issues with the banks but the fact remains that the banks used the USSD channels over more than a year without paying and they can’t deny that the USSD channels services were not made available to them by the telcos.

“The banks debited their customers for use of the USSD channels and they did not pay the telcos for the use of the services.

“They cannot enjoy a service and would not pay. Because no service is free. Not even the banking services offered to telcos.”

Adebayo said the debt remained outstanding and the banks have to pay the telcos because it has become a moral burden since the banks used the services, debited their customers’ accounts but refused to pay the telcos.

The ALTON boss said telcos hoped that the regulators (CBN and NCC) having intervened by preventing operators to disconnect the USSD services will resolve the lingering debt issues.

According to him, the banks owed the operators “and they will pay. Otherwise, let us ask them where the money is deducted for USSD services from their customers. You and I know we were charged for USSD transactions, what is the deduction meant for?”

MTN Nigeria had accused the banks of owing it N40.3 billion as at the end of first quarter of the year, according to its financial reports for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021.

MTN Nigeria Chief executive Officer (CEO), Karl Toriola had said: “As at the end of Q1, N40.3 billion was due to MTN Nigeria. In the meantime, we continue to account for USSD revenue on a cash basis.

“We continue to engage with the NCC, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and deposit money banks (DMBs) to conclude the operational modalities for the new pricing framework that has been agreed upon for USSD services. The mechanism for and timing of the recovery of the industry-wide outstanding debts that exist for USSD services provided to the DMBs form part of this process.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

Hope PSBANK Collaborates With FG To Create 100 Jobs In Each Local Government

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Hope Payment Service Bank, a subsidiary of Unified Payment Services Limited and Nigeria’s premier digital bank is collaborating with the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to create jobs for no fewer than 77,400 people across the country.

The employment opportunity is part of the exit strategy of the Federal Government’s Special Public Works Programme being executed alongside the bank by empowering 100 Nigerians in each of the 774 local governments.

Speaking at the official kick-off of the collaboration, the Managing Director, Hope Payment Service Bank, Mr. Ayotunde Kuponiyi noted that the digital bank serves as an enabling platform that would interface with 77,400 beneficiaries selected from the Special Works Programme of the FG to exit them into self-employment.

Kuponiyi stressed that the focus of the collaboration is geared towards empowering beneficiaries through the agency banking platform in carrying out financial services such as account opening, bills payments, fund transfer, cash in/cash for Nigerians while they earn commission in return with just the use of their smartphones.

According to him, this initiative comes at no cost to the beneficiaries as they can use their phones to carry out agency banking activities for which they earn commissions on each activity carried out. “Once on board, these beneficiaries will become HOPE PSBANK agents. They will undergo training on the various activities by the bank at no cost to them”, he added.

“We are very excited about this collaboration with the Ministry, which is in line with the thrust of the social objectives of Hope Payment Service Bank – poverty reduction through financial inclusion and diffusion of digital financial services”, he said.

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Banking Sector

CBN Grants Lotus Bank Non-Interest Banking Licence

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday, June 17, granted a non-interest banking licence to Lotus Bank Limited.

This was contained in a statement titled ‘CBN grants Lotus Bank licence to commence non-interest banking operations’.

The statement read in part: “Lotus Bank seeks to pursue the mission of creating value and growth for all through digital innovation and best-in-class customer experience for Nigerians.”

Commenting on the grants, the founder and managing director of Lotus Capital (the pioneers of non-interest finance in Nigeria), Hajara Adeola, said the bank was starting its operations on a solid foundation of experienced leadership and a strong advisory council of experts.

Adeola explained that the bank is managed by a team of seasoned professionals and financial experts led by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Kafilat Araoye, who has over 25 years of commercial banking experience.

She added that the institution’s focus and guiding principle is ‘to deliver an alternative option to interest-based banking and to cater to the needs of not just the banked but also the underbanked and unbanked population.

According to her, non-interest banking was geared towards supporting the real sector and Lotus Bank aimed to improve financial inclusion in the country.

The founder of the bank, however, disclosed that it would operate transparent pricing models as it was the norm in non-interest banking.

The statement added: “Our values are deeply rooted in partnership. A critical component of our mission is the provision of innovative solutions that drive ethical prosperity for all stakeholders.

“We pride ourselves on digital solutions that provide our customers with the convenience of unlimited access to our services and products.”

“Our products and service offerings will include non-interest business financing, deposit products (current, savings and investment accounts) and personal financing.”

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Banking Sector

Fidelity GAIM Season 4 Final Draw To Hold On July 22

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Fidelity Bank- Investors King

One of the leading financial institution in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank Plc, has announced plans to enrich the lives of fifteen Nigerians with a total of 39 million Naira at the final draw of the “Get Alert in Millions Campaign (GAIM)” Season 4 savings promo, slated for July 22, 2021.

The savings promotion, which is specifically aimed at promoting the culture of saving among Nigerians, is one of the bank’s many initiatives aimed at rewarding new and existing customers for their unwavering loyalty and patronage.

Despite the fact that the promotion was halted in 2020 due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic and the resulting global lockdown, hundreds of Nigerians have benefited from this unique reward scheme in which lucky customers are credited with millions of naira and consolation prizes via a draw system.

The Chairman, Promo Committee, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Richard Madiebo expressed his delight at the resumption of the savings promotion, stating that the campaign seeks to reward customers for their loyalty and patronage. According to Mr. Madiebo, for the past twelve years, the bank has empowered new and existing customers, providing an avenue for many to change their fortunes through its savings Promo.

He stated that the bank takes pride in keeping its promises, adding that the lender would continue to look out for innovative ways to satisfy and enrich its customers across the nation.

“And as we wind down on the 4th season of the GAIM promo, we are elated at the prospect of not only driving financial inclusion across Nigeria but also at the unique opportunity to enrich the lives of our customers especially in times of economic uncertainties”, noted Madiebo

Over the years, the leading tier two Bank has continued to intensify its efforts and innovate ways towards ensuring customer and stakeholder satisfaction. Through this promo, Fidelity Bank has promoted financial inclusion through digital channels and enriched the lives of its customers even in times of economic uncertainties.

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