Orders Immediate Suspension.
By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more information”.
This was the message many Nigerians and subscribers of the telecommunications network MTN Nigeria received on Sunday morning, even as the Christians prepared to head to church.
This is yet another charge, after the numerous charges banks subject their customers to on a daily basis. The information which wasn’t so clear to many, was also received by this Reporter, who is a subscriber to the service provider.
The information didn’t sit well with many Nigerians and so, it drew the attention of the Federal Ministry of Communication, which immediately called for the suspension of the plan.
A press statement by the Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications, Uwa Suleiman (Mrs) and obtained by The Sight News, revealed that the Minister of Communication is not aware of the development, and so, directed the sector regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, to ensure the suspension of the plan.
The statement reads, “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 21 st 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 (NCC) ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed”.
Recall that this Newspaper in an investigation in January 2019, uncovered that MTN was behind the N20 charge Access Bank customers paid at every attempt to use the USSD, even at failed attempts.
The Reporter who visited a branch of the bank, was told by the Customer Care agent who attended to her, that the bank was not to blame as the N20 does not go to the bank but to the telecommunication Service provider MTN Nigeria.
“Every transaction you make through the *901#, MTN charges N20 whether the transaction goes or not,” said the Customer Service Agent who pleaded anonymity. “They are the ones providing the services. If you have a mobile Application, you will not face such challenges”.
After the investigation, on February 1, 2019, Access Bank sent a viral message to its customers saying, ” No more fees! Our *901# service is now free of the N20 MTN session charge from February 1st, 2019. Dial *901# now do easy banking”.
However, with this new message from MTN, it appears the telecom service provider is devising other ways to continue its act of exploiting Nigerians and fleecing them of their hard-earned money.