MTN Explores New Payment Platforms to Avert Future Disconnection

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Stories by Emma Okonji

MTN Nigeria has decided to explore new digital payment platforms outside of the general Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code for its over 77 million subscribers, the largest among other telecoms operators in Nigeria, for fear of future disconnection by commercial banks.

The banks, last Thursday night, disconnected only MTN customers from accessing the USSD code on airtime vending from all bank channels that are linked to USSD code.

According to the banks, they took the decision because the telco reduced the discount offered to them on airtime sales from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, which did not go down well with them considering the cost of managing the infrastructure and other operational costs they incurred.

Although the disconnection lasted only four days before the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, intervened and settled the commercial dispute, THISDAY, however, gathered that MTN is not certain how the dispute will be finally settled, since the parties involved were only told to maintain status quo while negotiations on how to resolve the matter continues.

Some of the alternative payment platforms, which MTN is currently exploring, according to findings are Billsnpay app, owned and operated by CWG; Barter by Flutter Wave app; Jumia Pay app; OPay app; Carbon app; Kuda app; myMTN web; and Momo agent, operated by MTN Nigeria.

Meanwhile, MTN has said the selection of alternative platforms like Billsnpay was for the benefit of its customers who have been greatly inconvenienced by the service suspension from the banks.
CWG, which operates Billsnpay app, confirmed to THISDAY that MTN Nigeria has selected its Billsnpay app as alternative platform for financial transactions for all MTN customers.

According to a statement from CWG, and signed by its Head of Brand and Marketing, Seun Koshoedo, “Following the disconnection of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) by selected banks in Nigeria against MTN Nigeria subscribers, the telecoms company has decided to open up alternative Fintech platforms, where its subscribers can easily recharge their phones. One of such platforms is the CWG’s bill presentment platform tagged Billsnpay, which hitherto gives Nigerians the ease to recharge their phone or even buy data. The platform can also be used for estate levies, school fees, contributions, donations, faith-based payments, and fundraising initiatives.”

The statement further said the selection of Billsnpay, came barely 24 hours after CWG announced a two percent Airtime purchase discount on the platform as part of its effort to help drive the federal government cashless economy policy.
“We are offering a two per cent discount on our Billsnpay platform for Nigerians to purchase airtime with ease, in a flash, and from any service provider of your choice. Buying from the platform will allow you to spend less and save more,” Koshoedo said.

“We now have alternative channels such as BillsnPay, Flutterwave, Jumia Pay, OPay, Kuda and Carbon for accessing MTN services electronically,” according to a statement by the Senior Manager, External Relations at MTN Nigeria, Funso Aina.
The CWG’s BillsnPay is a bill presentment and payment platform designed to support the semi-formal sector by formalising the payments value chain. The solution seeks to transform the ‘paper-based/bank-alert-based’ transactions validation system that is common to a proper digital receipt that can be tendered in a court of law, CWG said.