The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON)ALTON, has revealed that financial institutions in Nigeria have accumulated up to N80 billion debt, a huge increase from the N42 billion recorded last year.
Disclosing this at the ICT Growth Conference 2.0., organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) on Thursday in Lagos, the ALTON President, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, said the accumulated debt is from banks’ Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service rendered through the telecom operators.
Engr. Adebayo however noted that some banks have been alive to their contract with telcos, but a majority of the banks have not honoured the contractual agreement with them despite government’s intervention in the matter.
To this, he warned that telcos are gearing up to stop USSD services to banks due to the deby pile up. “Some banks are responding while others are not. We are nearing that time when we have no choice but to discontinue the provision of services to banks. I think it is dishonourable that our colleagues in that sector know that they have an obligation to service providers and are shying away from it.”
He queried why banks deduct charges from their customers but refuse to pay telecom operators. “You don’t expect us to keep rendering services, when you don’t pay. The irony of the situation is that if it was the other way round, you could not owe the bank a cent.”
It was reported that the telecommunication operators had threatened to withdraw their USSD services to financial institutions from March 15, 2021 due to the N42 billion accumulated debt.
However, following intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), the planned action was shelved.
As a fallout of the meeting, the CBN and NCC announced the introduction of N6.98 per transaction as new charges for customers using the USSD services with effect from March 16, 2021.
The 2nd edition of the NITRA Growth Conference was engineered to bring together stakeholders in the industry to discuss challenges are proffer ways of resolving such challenges. The conference its theme as, “Creating a Digital Ecosystem in Nigeria: the Hurdles, the Gains”.
The conference was well attended by multi-sectorial stakeholders including Galaxy Backbone, 9mobile, Medallion Data center, among others.