Telecommunications companies say they may stop offering Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services to financial institutions for free.

The companies, under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), said banks would have to pay for the service if they want to continue receiving it.

According to PUNCH, Gbenga Adebayo, ALTON chairman, told reporters in Lagos on Wednesday that network operators incurred costs daily for providing the services.

The telcos, who provide the platform for the USSD service, had proposed to take a cut of N4.50k per 20 seconds from the charges paid by customers to the banks.

However, the banks kicked against it, alleging that it would raise cost by 450 percent.

“The USSD is a service we are providing for the banks and there is a cost incurred by telecom operators for providing those services,” Adebayo said.

“The bank has given an erroneous impression to the public that it is a sunk cost and it is not because for the service to be allowed, the cell site must be powered, there must be transmission link available and our systems must interconnect with the systems of the banks. It is a recurring cost other than the initial capital.”

Adebayo said if banks wanted to get the service for free, they should stop charging telcoms subscribers for it.

“If they think we should not charge, they also should not charge our subscribers,” he said.

“A time will come when we will have to invoke our rights under the Communications Act, which allows us to seek a request to disconnect the link.”

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