USSD service disruption: MTN, banks meeting end in a deadlock, continues today

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The meeting between MTN and the commercial banks is expected to continue today as the one held yesterday between both parties ended in a deadlock.

The officials of the commercial banks and MTN were physically present in the hybrid meeting while the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, joined virtually.

According to a report from Thisday, the meeting was adjourned to Wednesday after the discussion on the issues surrounding the commercial dispute were inconclusive.

However, a source added that the meeting was not likely going to be concluded today, because of the grey issues in the commercial dispute, but expressed optimism that the resolution might be reached on Thursday.

The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr Karl Toriola, had earlier written a letter to the CEO of banks where he reminded them of yesterday’s hybrid meeting.

The letter partly reads, “In an attempt to resolve the current USSD recharge impasse, given the intervention from our regulators, we hereby agree that the banks revert to the status of 4.5 per cent commission. However, the banks and MTN Communications Nigeria Plc shall sit to agree on various options that will result in the reduction in the costs on April 6, 2021.”

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It can be recalled that on Thursday last week, MTN subscribers were disconnected from all banking channels by the commercial banks, due to disagreements over banks’ commission which was reduced by the mobile network operator from 4.5% to 2.5%

The commercial banks, in an earlier written communication with MTN, were reported to have asked for a reversal to the old commission or they would block MTN airtime recharge services in all their channels.

All the commercial banks, except Zenith Bank which was connected directly to MTN, thereafter barred MTN from their banking channels, leaving many MTN subscribers stranded and frustrated as they were unable to recharge airtime through USSD and bank apps amid the Easter celebrations.

However, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had waded into the matter and had a meeting with the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Sunday, where it was agreed that both parties should return to the status quo pending the resolution of the issues.

The banks immediately reconnected all MTN customers and a meeting was fixed for yesterday April 6, 2021, to begin negotiations that would lead to the resolution of the commercial dispute between the banks and MTN.

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