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MTN CEO meets banks Tuesday over USSD commission feud

The chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, will be meeting the leadership of commercial banks in the country on Tuesday as part of measures to resolve the disagreement over USSD commissions, BusinessDay gathered.

The development is coming after a report that Nigerian banks and Africa’s largest telecommunication network have agreed to put their differences behind them with MTN pledging to reverse the commission review.

A contention on fees from USSD transactions had led banks to cut off MTN from the service for non-core banking services like the purchase of airtime, internet data, among others.

This was after MTN in a letter informed its partners that with effect from April 1, 2021 it was reviewing the commissions it pays out to banks and fintechs on the sales of airtime and data from 4.5 percent to 2.5 percent, saying the decision was based on “current market realities”.

After a meeting on Sunday said to have been initiated by Isa Pantami, the minister of communications and digital economy, the telco announced that it would revert the commission to the 4.5 percent status quo ante.

However, it also noted that the banks and the telco would sit to agree on various options that will result in the reduction in the costs on April 6, 2021.

Funsho Aina, MTN Nigeria’s head of corporate communications, confirmed the meeting schedule to BusinessDay, saying it would involve the MTN CEO and CEOs of the commercial banks.

MTN had also sent a message to its subscribers on Monday suggesting it has resolved the disagreement.

“Y’ello, you can now recharge airtime and buy data via your bank by dialing *904#. Thank you for your patience and understanding,” the text read.

Meanwhile, the ongoing National Identification Number registration exercise and the decision to stop SIM registration pending when the identity exercise is concluded has impacted negatively on the entire telecommunication industry with MTN among the most hit.

The telco has been losing subscribers and market share since September 2020. Loss of subscribers also means revenue leakage. The extension of the SIM registration blockage is likely to erode more of the profits of telcos.

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