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Nigeria: Telcos to disrupt SMS banking services due to $185m USSD debt

The row between Nigerian banks and telecommunications operators over the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) debt seems to have resumed, as telcos disclosed, that the debt has risen to N80 billion (US$185 million).

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, revealed this in Lagos, warning that telcos may disconnect service to defaulting banks.

As of April 2021, the USSD debt owed by banks to telcos stood at N45 billion and it has been growing since.

If the telcos carry out their threat, bank customers will have issues with transfers as well as other USSD-based transactions.

Already, most banks’ digital channels are overstretched, leading to slow services. The challenge, according to sources, has been compounded by the mass resignation of most of the IT experts in the banks, who have relocated abroad.

While USSD is important for banks to provide a range of services to their customers, it is powered by telcos. USSD is a protocol that allows users’ SIMs to communicate with the bank’s customers via text message.

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