• Monday, March 04, 2024
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BusinessDay

Telco-Bank USSD debt dispute threatens digital financial inclusion says NCC

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Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, has highlighted that the N120 billion debt owed by banks to telecommunication companies for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services is hindering financial inclusion efforts.

Danbatta stressed that digital financial inclusion, currently at 70 percent, heavily relies on USSD services provided by telcos, and non-payment disrupts progress.

At a Telecom Executives and Regulators Forum which took place in Lagos on Thursday, Danbatta revealed that banks have agreed to pay for the service following the NCC and Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention.

Read also: Rising inflation puts telcos’ prices on back foot

He added, “I think this is an important development for the telecoms industry—that we have found an amicable resolution to the problem because we’re all serving the same government.

“We do not want to disrupt financial services in the country. I’m talking about the telecommunication service providers, and we want to see the index on penetration even go higher.

“We want it to be ubiquitous and everywhere. Okay, but we cannot do this without settling the legacy debt as well as paying for the service that is being provided.”

The USSD debt had grown from N32 billion to N120 billion by the end of 2022, causing tension between telcos and banks, threatening the continuity of essential services.