Saturday, May 15, 2021

Millions of customers cannot buy credit for their phones as banks suspend MTN Nigeria Online Airtime Sales

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Naija247news, Nigeria
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) Nigeria customers laments over difficulty in recharging their phone airtime online with mobile banking applications.

EVen as some banks suspends MTN Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code because of shared profits issues that banks has not resolve with the telecoms network

Recalled in December 2019, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications of Nigeria (ALTON) threatened to shut down USSD platforms for Nigeria due to inability to resolve the isssues of payment for USSD, either from the banks or telecommunications company.

Telcos insist on charging the banks but Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele rejected the issues because of its raising costs for banks.

Both the telecommunication companies and di banks dey drag dis matter since 2019 but on March 16, 2021 di federal goment through di Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) peg di price at ₦6.98 for USSD.

All lenders in Africa’s most populous country, except Zenith Bank, have taken MTN Nigeria off their platform, said Funso Aina, spokesman for the telecommunications company. The banks took the action after MTN reduced the commission paid to lenders for allowing customers use their platform to buy call credit, Aina said.

Airtime sales are suspended through all banking channels — banking apps, USSD codes and even debit cards. MTN is the West African nation’s biggest telecom services provider with about 79 million subscribers.

“Dear Customer, our bank recharge channels are currently unavailable. Kindly recharge using physical cards. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you,” according to a text message sent to subscribers on Saturday.

MTN later provided 10 alternative platforms, including fintechs and its own mobile apps, that customers can use to make airtime purchases in a text message to subscribers late Saturday evening.

Banking channels are the preferred medium for many Nigerians to buy call credits on their phones because of the convenience it provides. Other telcos have not been affected by the action. The banks couldn’t be reached for comment.

Meanwhile the Nigerian government says it has intervened in a feud between Nigerian banks and MTN, which left millions of phone users unable to buy airtime Friday.

Talks to resolve a row over the sharing of fees on airtime sales between the two sides “reached an advanced stage” for suspended services to be restored, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, announced on Twitter late Friday.

“On the fallout between @MTNNG and some banks on USSD services today, I engaged with both regulators, the Governor of @cenbank and EVC @NgComCommission. We have reached an advanced stage of resolving the issues, for the services to be restored to our citizens. Many thanks,” he said.

Banks removed the telecom giant from their platforms, disallowing MTN users from accessing their bank accounts through the USSD infrastructure to recharge their phones.

Subscribers expressed their frustration online, as MTN advised its customers to seek alternative ways of recharging without explaining what the problem was.

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