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Reps move to halt withdrawal of USSD services

The House of Representatives has urged Telecom operators in the country to halt the planned withdrawal and suspension of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services to Nigerians and other financial institutions.

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD sometimes referred to as “quick codes” or “feature codes”, is a communications protocol used by GSM cellular telephones to communicate with the mobile network operator’s computers.

This was a sequel to a motion by a member from Delta State, Mr Nicholas Ossai on the urgent need to intervene in the impasse of forty billion Naira debt between telecom operators and banks as well as other financial institutions.

Mr Ossai stated that since October 2019 till date, there has been a dispute between Nigerian telecommunication operators and Nigerian banks over who should pay for USSD service sessions.

The lawmaker said the banks had always wanted the telecom operators to charge costumers directly, but that the operators had insisted that the services where being offered to the banks and as such, they should be the ones to pay.

According to him, between the month of July and August 2020, the operators had an agreement with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, that the Nigerian banks should pay the telecom operators for the use of the services at an agreed individual price mechanism.

Mr Ossai added that all efforts to resolve the dispute proved abortive and the debt kept increasing.

He disclosed that the telecom operators have issued a notice threatening to withdraw and suspend the USSD services from Nigerian banks starting from Monday 15th March 2021.

The lawmaker observed that if the USSD service is withdrawn, Nigerian Telecom users would be seriously affected.

Contributing to the debate, the chairman house committee on Telecommunications, Mr Akeem Adeyemi, described the bank’s refusal to pay the debt as unfortunate.

Adopting the motion, the house mandated its Committee on Telecommunications to liaise with the telecom operators, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Nigerian banks and other financial institutions with a view to resolving the impasse and report back to the House within six weeks for further legislative action.

IBRAHIM SHEHU

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