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Nigerians Now Pay Mandatory N6.98 for USSD Transactions

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USSD - Investors King

Many users of USSD services in Nigeria on Friday started to see a notice to pay N6.98 for each transaction session.

USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, especially for those who do not have access to physical banking infrastructure or internet services.

“Welcome to USSD Banking,” one notice said. “Please note, a N6.98 network charge will be applied to your account for banking services on this channel.”

The decision to charge users was reached in March by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Channels reported.

The decision was part of an agreement reached with deposit money banks following a disagreement between banks and telecom firms over USSD and other text message transaction requests.

“Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) and all CBN-licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction,” a March statement signed by the CBN and NCC partly read.

The charge is expected to be withdrawn from users’ bank accounts and remitted to mobile network operators, who provide infrastructure for the service to operate.

“The general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions,” the CBN and NCC said in its joint statement in March.

“The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.”

Many Nigerians took to Twitter early Friday to express their dismay over the charges.

There are concerns about how the new charge will affect financial inclusion, particularly for people who do not have access to internet services.

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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Telecommunications

Truecaller Launches Smart SMS Feature in Africa

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Truecaller- Investors King

Truecaller, the world’s most trusted and accurate Caller ID and telephone search engine, is rolling out a new feature to further augment the user experience.

The new feature Smart SMS has been introduced based on user feedback and is designed to cater to the evolving needs of our consumers. It offers a host of new services to make day-to-day communication a lot more convenient.

Smart SMS is powered by state-of-the-art machine learning models that adapt based on the feedback you give it. It supports users with important messages from banks, billers, travel companies, delivery companies and so much more.

Smart SMS also helps users stay protected from spam and fraud. Only the essential information within an SMS is highlighted and all SMS messages are categorised and easily accessible. From keeping track of your expenses to last-minute changes to your travel, Smart SMS is the future of SMS that will make life a whole lot easier.

Commenting on the new addition, Zakaria Abdulkadir Hersi, Director of Business Development & Partnerships Africa at Truecaller said: “Roughly 80% of SMSes one receives daily are from businesses, disengaging users from important/useful messages. To combat that, SMS apps need to become smarter by filtering out spam and categorising useful information.

“At Truecaller, we constantly strive to offer the best user experience by adding unique features that fit in with our core mission: to make communication safer and more efficient for everyone. Truecaller has evolved into a powerful communication hub and for the people who wish to use the app to its fullest, we want to streamline the experience as much as possible for an efficient calling and messaging experience for our end user.”

Truecaller uses the same powerful algorithms used to identify spam callers in SMS as well. The SMS intelligence is built into the app itself and it can work offline – nothing leaves your device, including all OTPs, bank SMSes and financial information.

The feature also offers a Smart Inbox that identifies unknown SMS sender numbers and SMS sender IDs are resolved to business names with logos.

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Telecommunications

Airtel’s Broadband Coverage Ranked Best

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Airtel Financial Results - Investors King

Airtel Nigeria has been declared the ‘Best in Test’ following a nationwide broadband assessment by umlaut, an international, full-service, cross-industry, end-to-end company that offers advisory and fulfilment services to clients globally.

According to CEO of Telecommunications at umlaut, Hakan Ekmen, Airtel achieved the best-rated broadband coverage and user download speed among other mobile network operators, scoring the highest with 697 points, while MTN emerged second with 663 points, 9mobile with 591 and Glo with 486 points.

The tests were carried out with umlaut’s crowdsourcing methodology, which was used to evaluate the mobile networks in Nigeria. Consequently, an extensive analysis revealed that 263,000 users have contributed 707.4-million samples in 24 weeks from October 2020 until early April 2021.

Speaking on the metrics of the assessment, Ekmen stated that over 80 per cent of urban build-up and population areas were tested to arrive at the results. He went on to laud Airtel for emerging the best-rated, citing it as a remarkable feat and a positive step towards attaining digital equality in Africa.

“In our nationwide assessment, 82.8 per cent of the urban build-up area and 83.9 per cent of the population area were tested. We concluded that Airtel Nigeria is Best in Test, achieving the highest umlaut score with 697 points,” Ekmen said.

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Telecommunications

MTN Nigeria Clarifies Concerns on Service Disruptions

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Karl O Toriola - Investorsking.com

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has clarified the misleading media coverage related to a notice sent to a select group of enterprise customers on the 15th of June, 2021 about potential service disruptions.

To better clarify the issue, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola said “Maintaining network stability and high levels of customer service remains a key priority for us. In line with MTN Nigeria’s standard practice, this includes communicating to and informing customers of any potential disruptions in a timely manner, whether due to maintenance on the network, outages due to faults or other circumstances that may pose a risk, enabling them to plan appropriately and put in place business continuity measures.”

He further explained that the notice in question was a routine notification a small group of businesses affected by a specific challenge in very few specific locations, adding that the notices are regularly distributed to partners and are not out of the ordinary.

“Small, medium and large enterprises are key to driving economic growth in Nigeria and with the rise of digital solutions, are becoming more reliant on secure and reliable connectivity solutions. We recognise and understand the importance of serbice availability and strive to deliver a seamless and uninterrupted high-quality network experience, so that they are able to meet their customer’s needs.”

“As a responsible Nigerian company, we remain committed to supporting the sustainable growth and development of our country. We are dedicated to delivering the highest levels of service possible, and steadfast in our drive to ensure our customers have the information they need to make critical personal and business decisions and will continue to update them on relevant developments,” the MTN Nigeria boss stated.

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