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Banks Not Owing MTN Nigeria, Other Telecom Operators- Herbert Wigwe

Ololade Omosan-Agie

Nigerian banks have insisted that they are not indebted to any telecom operator for end-user billing worth N42bn, an amount claimed by Mobile Network Operators.

The telecom operators under the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria in March announced that it would suspend all Unstructured Supplementary Service Data due to N42bn debt accumulated by banks.

The telecom operators were into partnership with financial service providers on bearing the cost of USSD access by end-users.

NCC had in August last year directed all Mobile Network Operators to charge banks directly for USSD services.

The pricing regime requires Mobile Network Operators and banks to agree on pricing to be applied on USSD services.

The telecom firms however claimed that banks decided that they would no longer pay for USSD service delivered to their customers and requested them to charge customers directly for use of the USSD channel.

This led to a threat to suspend USSD service, but the Central Bank of Nigeria intervened.

Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc and the chair of bank executives involved in resolving disputes between the banks and MTN on Thursday denied the N42bn debt, during an investor call, according to Bloomberg.

Wigwe said, “There is no such thing as an obligation due from banks to telecom operators.

“We chose not to make a public statement out of it because it is not appropriate for us to be found fighting with telecom companies in public.”

The dispute was heightened after MTN slashed banks commission to 2.5 per cent, a move that triggered the suspension of MTN USSD service.

The service was restored two days later after the apex bank and the Nigerian Communications Commission interceded.

Wigwe also claimed that the telecommunication firms were asking the banks to pay for transactions which did not happen.

He said, “It is true that they continue to provide this service but this service has nothing to do with the banks.”

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