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CBN Opposes MTN’s Planned Charges

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Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has opposed plans by MTN to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) access to banking services from Oct. 21.

The Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday.

MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was on the request of the banks and would take effect from Oct. 21.

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct. 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more information,’’ the message said.

Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.

“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.

“At that time, we came to the conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost. What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us, they said it is an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason they needed to impose it.

“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen. The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.

“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible if not zero cost.

“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.

The transactions to be affected by the charges include intra- and inter-bank money transfers, through USSD, among others.

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Naira Crashes, Now Exchanging At N412 For A Dollar

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The Nigerian Naira plunged further in value on Monday March 30, as it exchanged at N412 for a dollar following a temporary suspension of sale of forex to the Bureau De Change operators in the country by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Recall that the apex bank had pegged the exchange rate of the Naira at N380 to the dollar, a move it insisted was not a devaluation of the Nigerian currency.

The CBN however granted the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria its request of going on holiday due to challenges in the local and global economies over the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Naira has crashed in its value due to the low price of crude oil in the international market in recent times, BDC operators have disclosed that there has been a drastic decline in demand for forex due to the impact of coronavirus on the economy. The financial market stakeholders also disclosed that businesses are down and many people are not travelling.

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Naira Crashes In Value, Dollar Sells For N420

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On Thursday, the naira exchanged between N405 and N420 to a dollar in the Bureau De Change segment of the market, Punch reports

The President, Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria, Aminu Gwadabe, said the crude oil price which fell drastically in the international market to as low as $35 per barrel, raised speculations among the BDC operators and Nigerians in general.

He said this caused speculations in the market which were not necessary.

Gwadabe said, “With the fall in oil crude oil prices on Monday, we witnessed a lot of foreign investors portfolio dropping their assets, most especially to convert to cash.

“The movement was as a result of recklessness on the side of the operators, when they want to speculate, but there is no reason for such because the Central Bank of Nigeria had continued to maintain support for liquidity to the BDC sub-sector.”

While noting that the dollar sold for as high as N400, he said sanity was gradually returning to the sector as it sold for N375 by the close of the day.

According to him, the CBN had maintained stability at N360 in more than three years.

He said in its meeting with the CBN on Thursday, the regulator warned the BDCs against contraventions.

The ABCON president disclosed that the CBN wanted to revoke the licences of some BDCs for various infractions but fined over 100 BDCs over N5m for various offences.

Another BDC operator who spoke with our correspondent said, “When we woke up on Monday, the exchange was still about N360, but all of a sudden, because of the fall in crude oil price, people were panicky.

“Today, we still sold for up to N420 but the price was fluctuating.”

The CBN also expressed its displeasure on the issue in a statement, saying the speculative activities of unscrupulous players in the foreign exchange market was borne out of the impression that the CBN was on the verge of devaluing the Naira, and triggering panic in the FX Market.

“These rumours are false, unwarranted and calculated to serve their dubious and selfish ends,” it stated.

It added, “We have begun a robust and coordinated investigation in collaboration with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and related agencies to uncover the unscrupulous persons and FX dealers who are creating this panic, and the full weight of our rules and regulations will be meted out to them, including, but not limited to, being charged for economic sabotage.”

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N2.5trn Financing For One million Farmers On The Way

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Commodities Exchange Limited has initiated moves to raise N2.5 trillion for 1 million farmers in the next five years.

Addressing journalists at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony in Abuja on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer of AFEX, Ayodeji Balogun said “AFEX is on a path to building Africa’s second commodities derivative market,

The MoU was signed between AFEX, FMDQ and Dubai Gold and Commodity Exchange (DGCX).

Ayodeji Balogun noted that this partnership sets the tone for that journey.

He noted that AFEX develop product innovations that will unlock a wider range of products that are able to be traded within Nigeria’s capital markets to promote broad-based wealth creation that’s accessible to every Nigerian.

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