If you’re wondering why you couldn’t buy airtime or data on your MTN line and instead got the message that read, “Dear customer, this service is temporarily available. Kindly contact your Telecom service provider”, here’s why!
Yesterday, MTN subscribers were unable to recharge their lines (and other lines) using bank USSD codes. What this means is that MTN users could not use recharge for airtime or data using their bank Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). According to reports, MTN Nigeria barred this service after it allegedly cut on the commission it pays out to fintech companies and banks on the sales of data and airtime.
When the news of the service became widespread, many banks sent out notifications to their customers explaining the situation to them. The notifications explained why customers could not recharge for data and airtime using the USSD channel. Apart from the USSD channel, MTN users were unable to recharge for data and airtime using the My MTN app and some other internet-enabled channels.
In a mail sent to its partners, MTN Nigeria confirmed that it has barred the purchase of data and airtime via some channels. The mail read, “Dear customer, please be informed that some of our Mycustomers may not be able to purchase airtime, and data recharge via banks including MOD, and myMTN App. Please pacify Mycustomers and educate them to use MTN Topit, MoMo channels, as well as the debit card options on MOD or myMTN App”
About two weeks ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria decided that Nigerians will be charged a flat fee of ₦6.98 for every USSD banking transaction. According to Gbenga Adebayo; the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Nigerian banks that provide banking services for its customers owe the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) the sum of ₦42 billion which is equivalent to $102.4 million. The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) comprises of internet service providers and all the telecommunication companies in Nigeria such as Airtel, MTN Nigeria, 9mobile and Globacom. Following this, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made an announcement that starting from Tuesday, the 16th of March 2021, that customers are to pay a flat fee of ₦6.98 for every financial transaction they carry out via the USSD channel in relation to CBN-licensed institution and bank services
The dispute surrounding the charges of USSD transactions is most likely what made MTN Nigeria single-handedly decided to rule out the option for its subscribers.