By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued an order to all telcos to bring down their Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services to not more than N4.89k per session.
The charges used to be from about N52.50k particularly if the user is making mobile money transfer from one bank to the other.
The Commission said the order was necessary, to save subscribers from the often high and arbitrary charges on mobile financial services.
The regulatory document titled “Determination of USSD Pricing which is binding on all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs),” seeks a departure from the usual practice involving a negotiation between telcos and financial services providers in determining what the consumers pay for mobile USSD transactions.
The NCC, however, said it waded into the matter to exercise its right of issuing orders on how digital financial services should be done in the country. The Commission aims at issuing new guidelines for licensing finance and getting more Nigerians into the government’s financial inclusion plans.
The NCC explained the reason for the order, stating that other financial services by the network providers were often high and arbitrary. The regulator also expressed belief that banks and licensed mobile financial services providers would comply with this new instruction.
Director Public Affairs of the NCC, Mr Henry Nkemadu, told Vanguard that the order is part of the new price caps which will take effect in September. The commission also expected that other players in the digital finance ecosystem, such as banks and licensed mobile financial services providers would also show transparency and ensure that their charges reflect their true cost structures.
Meanwhile, in another development, the MTN Group, yesterday announced what it described as encouraging set of results for the six months ended 30 June 2019 considering difficult trading conditions across its major markets.
The company recorded 12% increase in adjusted headline earnings per share, which is the first time it had delivered growth of that magnitude in recent years.
It also recorded a strong subscriber growth of 7.7 million in the first six months of the year reaching a total of 240 million subscribers, while active data users grew by 3.5 million to 82 million and its 30-day active Mobile Money users grew by 2.4 million to 30 million.
The company’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Rob Shutter said: “During the period we had some landmark events. We successfully completed the listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and our e-commerce joint venture Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Within three months of announcing our asset realisation programme, which is targeting at least R15 billion over the next few years, we delivered R2,1 billion in proceeds.”
He also said that in areas such as operating environment, the group contended with a weak macroeconomic environment in South Africa as well as the introduction of new end-user requirements and the re-pricing of out-of-bundle data rates, while economic activity was muted, in Nigeria, in the time of presidential elections and prior to the formation of the cabinet
Looking ahead, Shuter said MTN is well positioned to grow by leveraging our scale and enhancing our competitive position.
MTN will focus on the continued turnaround of the enterprise business, the recovery of prepaid and the launch of Mobile Money, in South Africa, while in In Nigeria, will continue further rollout of 4G coverage, the launch of Ayoba and Music Time! as well as accelerating its fintech ambitions by fully leveraging on extensive distribution network to offer a range of transfer and payment services to our GSM customer base.