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MTN Shuns Nigerian Govt’s Directive On USSD Charges

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MTN Nigeria yesterday said it will go ahead to charge its customers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) voice or text message which allows them access to bank services via their mobile phones.

The telecom said it would start charging its subscribers from today, despite a directive by the Federal Government to halt the plan, Daily Trust reports.

MTN’s subscribers on Sunday received messages from the company informing them that with effect from today, it will start charging them N4 per 20 seconds for USSD voice or N4 for text message.

One of the messages from MTN read: ‘’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 info.’’

In yet another message, it said: “Yello, please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.’’

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But most of its customers reacted negatively to the new charge, saying it is exploitative. They therefore complained to the Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Panatmi via his twitter handle @DrIsaPantami, calling on the minister to rein in on MTN.

Dr Pantami answered one of them, saying he has directed NCC to ask MTN to halt the planned charge. ‘’Many thanks for drawing my attention to it. We have directed NCC to ask MTN to suspend the plan. We are not aware of it officially. We will investigate and make sure right thing is done. Best wishes’’, the minister said.

But a top official said that the telecom would still go ahead to introduce the charge, Daily Trust reports. The official who pleaded anonymity because he was not officially cleared to speak to the press said it introduced the charge on the directive of Bankers Committee.

“Other telecom operators have been charging their customers for USSD before they could access their banks’ services; we are the last to introduce it.

“Bank Committees with the knowledge of CBN told us to charge the customers directly. Before it was the banks that deducted the whole charge, now it was agreed in a meeting with CBN knowledge that we should now charge N4 directly, and that the banks should charge their customers the rest.

“It should be N22: we charge N4 and they should deduct the remaining. But as it is now, the banks are still taking the whole N22.”

Meanwhile, the CBN has told banks to yank off businesses from telecommunication operators charging bank customers using USSD to make transactions.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said this during a press briefing at the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF meetings in Washington DC.

He explained that “about five months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria and the issue of USSD came up. At that time, we came to conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost which is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom companies. But the telecoms companies disagreed with us and said it’s an additional investment and they needed to impose it. I appeal to them that they should review it downwards and they refused’ he said.

Explaining further Mr. Emefiele said: “I understand that three or four weeks ago, rather than reduce it, they went ahead to increase it by 300 percent. I opposed it and I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen. The banks are the people who give this business to the telecoms 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”. That’s where we stand and we must achieve it.’’

He said the telco’s decision will impede financial inclusion.

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SON Certifies Innoson Motors, Issues MANCAP Certificate

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on Wednesday presented the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) certification to Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM).

The certificate was presented to IVM Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Innocent Chukwuma, by SON Director-General, Osita Aboloma, in Nnewi in Anambra State.

Aboloma noted that the award shows that the company passed the rigorous process of inspections and quality assurance in the last five years.

He added that it also demonstrated compliance with the relevant product standards.

“With the award of MANCAP’s certificate to Innoson brand of vehicles, we are demonstrating how standardisation and conformity to standards offer strategic opportunities for increased efficiency.

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“We are, in effect, saying that Innoson brand is fit to be used in Nigeria and beyond,” Aboloma said.

In his Goodwill message, the National President of Nigerian Association of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu and who was represented its National Vice President, Mr Humphrey Ngonadi noted that for Innoson Vehicles to receive the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) means that it met the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) and it is a “confirmation of the capacity of our industry”.

The NACCIMA President assured Innoson Vehicles of the continuous support of NACCIMA to his company.

Giving his remarks, the Innoson Vehicle Boss, Chief Chukwuma gave the assurance that Innoson Vehicles will continue to employ international best practices in the production of its vehicles so that they can compare favorably in terms of durability, fuel economy and safety.

He stated further that the company is now producing affordable cars that an average Nigerian worker can purchase easily.

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Union Bank Sells UK Subsidiary

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Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc has entered a share sale and purchase agreement to divest its 100 per cent equity stake in its United Kingdom (UK) subsidiary, Union Bank UK (UBUK) Plc.

In a regulatory filing just released at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the board of Union Bank stated that the sale was in line with the bank’s strategy to geographically streamline its business operations to focus on growth opportunities in Nigeria.

According to the bank, following a competitive bid process, MBU BidCo Limited (MBU), an acquisition vehicle wholly owned by MBU Capital Limited (MBU Capital), was selected as the preferred bidder. The completion of the sale is however still subject to regulatory approvals from the relevant regulatory authorities in Nigeria and the UK.

MBU Capital is an investment management firm founded in 2013 and based in Mayfair, London. MBU Capital has active interests in financial services, healthcare, education, real estate and technology. MBU Capital (UK) LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Chief Executive Officer, Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc, Emeka Emuwa said the bank decided that as the banking landscape shifts towards digital and agency banking to drive financial inclusion, the Nigerian market presents robust long-term opportunities for it.

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He pointed out that the divestment allows the bank to channel its focus and capital towards mining the Nigerian opportunities fully.

“Through the sale, we are better positioned to deliver greater value to the organisation and its stakeholders as well as continue to build the future of banking in Nigeria. The terms of the sale of UBUK delivers substantial value to our shareholders, while also entrusting its customers and trading partners to a high-quality financial services institution which will work with existing management to deliver a stronger and more profitable entity,” Emuwa said.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MBU Capital, Mohammed Iqbal said the investment group was delighted with the acquisition, describing it as a huge opportunity to build on UBUK’s strengths in international markets to create a new-style bank which is focused on the needs of UK and international SMEs and entrepreneurs.

According to him, many customers are seeking a bank which truly understands the needs of entrepreneurial, fast-growing businesses.

“We believe that our acquisition and vision for UBUK offers the potential for significant growth for the bank. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at UBUK to continue to service the needs of its clients. We also look forward to sustaining and deepening relationships with UBUK’s existing trading partners,” Iqbal said.

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Peace Mass Transit Launches 50 Brand New Buses [PHOTOS]

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Peace Mass Transit (PMT) Limited, the leading mini-bus transport company in the country, has readied a total of 50 brand new buses for injection into its fleet.

The buses are all products of newly established PMT Vehicle Assembly Plant, located within the Emene Industrial Layout headquarters of the company.

PMT Executive Director in charge of operations, Enete Ifeanyi Henry Clinton disclosed that the new buses would be assigned to drivers and has already being deployed to all the PMT depots across the country.

Peace Mass Transit has an active fleet of 4,000 buses with at least 2,000 on the road daily. It regularly freshens up the fleet to meet customer expectations and also maintain its market leadership.

PMT Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chief Samuel Maduka Onyishi, maintains he runs the company as a “ministry” and not strictly as a business, and would, always do what it takes to keep the company as an industry leader, at all times.

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“The brand new buses we are injecting cost almost N 17 million per unit, but I have a pact with both God and our huge clientele to offer the best possible services at all, times,” he stated after inspecting the newly assembled buses on Monday.

Customers are encouraged to book online through www.pmt.ng, or visit our website –peacegroup.ng

Chief Onyishi, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) expressed gratitude to God and also to Nigerians who have trusted the brand (PMT) for over 20years. He urged them to keep their faith in the company and promised to always deliver beyond their expectations.

“Our customers deserve even more and no less,” he added. “We will never take their patronage for granted because they have brought us this far.”

He reiterated that the introduction of the new buses was a “strategic fleet rejig” and in no way signified or suggested older vehicles had any maintenance issues or were about to be discarded.

“Our maintenance culture is top-notch and the team is manned by technicians and engineers some of whom were trained abroad.

All PMT vehicle plying the highway, are regularly checked for maintenance, to avoid breakdown. All our vehicles run on strong quality tires which are replaced upon attainment of a certain mileage.’’

He reiterated that the introduction of the new buses was a “strategic fleet rejig” and in no way signified or suggested older vehicles had any maintenance issues or were about to be discarded the chairman concluded.

Special, distinguishing features of the new buses include, but not limited to EBS/ABS brake system combined, digital dashboard, factory-fitted speed limiter, on-board TV, and DVC player for customers’ non-stop pleasure.

According to the Executive Director, Ifeanyi, ‘’Multiple charging points and luggage controls are being provided, with all the buses fully air-conditioned, which includes protective seat belts for all passengers.

Free Wi-Fi services for passengers are still in the works.

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