MTN, Airtel, others to disconnect banks’ USSD code over N80bn debt


The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, has disclosed that network providers will disconnect banks from the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code.

ALTON, the umbrella body for MTN Nigeria, Airtel, Glo, 9mobile amongst others, had disclosed that the banks have failed to remit commission from the charges of the USSD used by bank account holders for electronic transactions.

The debt has risen to N80 billion as of November 2022 from N32 billion in 2019. As a result of the growing debt, the network providers have continued to threaten disconnection.

Recall in September that the telecommunications companies lamented the banks’ refusal to remit commission to the telcos despite the USSD charge raised to N6.98 per transaction effective from March 16, 2021, to enable both parties share from the proceeds.

Adebayo said,“We have sought regulatory approval to pursue partial removal. We would start disconnecting those who owe us in batches, a highest debtor scenario.

“We don’t know as regards the timing because we are required to get approval before acting. But we would certainly commence the process once it is approved. The amount is over N80 billion, it is not yet up to N90 billion, but it is up to that.”

It was gathered that the highest debtor will first be disconnected, then others will follow as well.

The Head of Operations, ALTON, Gbolahan Awonuga, said the phase one disconnection will happen between January to March 2022.

“The debt is a lot now. The banks are charging customers. We could have done it but because we are. It will get to a time before we do that. Before we can do that, we need to get regulatory approval. I cannot give you a timeline.

“This could happen around the first quarter. This would affect the CBN’s cashless policy. How many people use Internet banking? This is likely going to happen in the first quarter and is around the N80 billion,” Awonuga said.