Nigerian operators threaten to cut banks off over unpaid $185m bill


Nigerian operators are threatening to cut off banks providing mobile financial services because they say they have not paid their bill.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (Alton) says the banks owe $185.7 million for providing a feature called unstructured supplementary services data (USSD).

Alton president Gbenga Adebayo (pictured) said: “Banks deduct charges from their customers but refuse to pay telecom operators. You don’t expect us to keep rendering services when you don’t pay.”

USSD is a service that is like SMS but sends and receives data in real time. It is used by 2G and 3G phones without mobile internet connections for a variety of data connections.

In sub-Saharan Africa, only 28% of the population has access to the internet, according to the Ecofin news agency, citing the GSMA.

Adebayo said: “Bank customers will not be able to make ATM withdrawals or do transfers as well as other digital banking related services if the operators withdraw their services.”

The dispute has been continuing for some time. Last year Alton threatened to stop offering USSD services to financial institutions, over unpaid invoices. But now the unpaid bill has doubled.