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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

ALTON exonerates telcos, says banks endorsed end-user billing - ITREALMS

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has exonerated its members from the current crisis of double billing of customers over the suspended charges on the use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), reports ITREALMS.

ALTON also expressed concern over the public outcry that graced the planned commencement of the charges for the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services and the subsequent suspension of the implementation by the Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr. Ibrahim Isa Pantami.

Reacting to the situation, 
ALTON chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo and Head of Operations, Gbolahan Awonuga, told ITREALMS that operators followed due process. 

ITREALMS recalls that the latest USSD billing was to commence on Monday, October 21, 2019 but was truncated by public condemnations and alleged fraudulent deductions.

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In its response on this billing methodology, ALTON said, which involves banks customer being directly charged USSD access fees by telcos irrespective of the service charges that the bank may subsequently apply to the customers’ bank account.

This, ALTON described as ‘End-User Billing’ which the banks specifically “demanded that all our members implement.”

Also, ALTON said, the banks, however, provided no assurances that such service fees charged to customers’ bank accounts for access to bank services through the USSD channel will be discontinued post implementation of end-user billing by ALTON members.

“The removal of these service fees by the banks would have meant that if bank customers were charged only the USSD costs communicated by our members per USSD session, bank customers will be paying far less than what they are currently being charged by the banks which in some instances are as high as N50,” ALTON argued.

Stressing that banks and telco’s ought to be applauded for collaborating effectively towards the financial inclusion objectives of the Federal Government, rather than condemnation.

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ALTON further beckoned on the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria to, as a matter of priority, convene a meeting of the financial and telecoms industry stakeholders to address this issue for the benefit of the consumers and other stakeholders.

Chuks Egbuna/Editor

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