The Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has disclosed that the banks’ Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) debt has increased to N80 billion from N42 billion reported in 2021.
The Chairman of ALTON, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, made this disclosure during the ICT Growth Conference 2.0. organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), on Thursday in Lagos.
Adebayo stressed that the debt owed members of the association was for services rendered to banks.
He lamented that in spite of government’s intervention in the matter, many banks were not cooperating as regards paying their debt.
According to him “Some banks are responding while others are not. We are nearing that time when we have no choice but to discontinue the provision of services to banks.
“I think it is dishonourable that our colleagues in that sector know that they have an obligation to service providers and are shying away from it.
“Banks deduct charges from their customers but refuse to pay telecom operators. You don’t expect us to keep rendering services, when you don’t pay.”
He posited that the irony of the situation was that if it was the other way round, you could not owe the bank a cent.
Adebayo said the debt payment has lingered for too long and that the Telecommunications operators may be forced to withdraw their services to banks and other financial institutions in the country due to the unwillingness of the banks to pay their debts.
When the telecommunications operators withdraw their services, he said, bank customers will not be able to make ATM withdrawal or do transfers as well as other digital banking related services.
Gentechnews reported that the telecommunication operators had threatened to withdraw their USSD services to financial institutions from March 15, 2021 due to the N42 billion accumulated debt before the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) intervention shelved the planned action.
The CBN and NCC meeting over the debt impasse made the two regulatory organisations to introduce N6.98 per transaction as new charges for customers using the USSD services with effect from March 16, 2021.