USSD Banking Access:FG, CBN Rejects MTN’s Plans To Impose Chargers On Subscribers

According to reports, several MTN subscribers have allegedly received an SMS message from MTN on 10/20/19  stating: “Yello, Please note that from OCT 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you”
If this is allowed to take effect, it would mean that customers would pay or would be charged N12 for every minute spent on USSD channel.
This development have since provoked swift reactions from customers, some who have taken to social media outlets to voice their displeasure.


The Federal Government have also been swift in  rejecting this move by MTN and any other telecommunications provider who may also have plans to introduce new charges on USSD banking access.
The Federal Ministry of Communications has ordered a discontinuation of the idea by MTN or any other telecommunications service provider in the country.

The Minister of Communication, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami’s  response was contained in a Sunday afternoon tweet via the ministry’s official Twitter handle @ngrcommtech.

See the statement:

The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator MTN Nigeria and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.

The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.

Uwa Suleiman (Mrs)
Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications
20th October 2019


The Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN ) have also come out to voice outright rejection to plans by MTN to charge customers and subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data ( USSD ) access to banking services effective OCT. 21.The  CBN governor said this planned charge on USSD would not be allowed to happen. His words:

“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.

“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost.

“What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us. They said it was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.

“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen.

“The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.

“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.

“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.