The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has started a pricing regime for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
USSD are shortcodes used by the banks and other commercial organisations to offer mobile financial services and other similar services.
According to an NCC document titled “New Pricing Regime for National Numbering & Short Codes”, the new pricing regime takes effect from January 1, 2021.
It was learnt that before now, the commission was not charging institutions, especially the banks, for using shortcodes to provide financial services, as this helps to deepen digital financial inclusion.
But this latest action by the NCC, it was learnt, has become necessary in view of the huge economic benefits, as well the premium services that organisations now deploy the USSD service for which has a lot of commercial gains.
Another reason given for the new regime was based on the need for effective utilisation of the shortcodes as a national resource for effective benefits to all Nigerians.
As gathered from the commission, the purpose of the national numbering plan is also to set up a uniform numbering scheme and the associated dialing procedures to be used in the network to allow subscribers and operators set up calls.
The telecoms regulator, in the document, said that shortcodes for premium codes would attract N2.5 million for allocation, while renewal would still be N2.5 million. Insurance operators to get code will pay N5 million and renew with N5 million.
For the banks, shortcodes will attract N10 million as allocation fee, while renewal fee is fixed at N10 million. Non-core financial institutions, it is N6 million allocation fee and N6 million renewal fee. Micro-Finance banks will pay N500,000 and N500,000 for renewal.
Also, the commission said allocation fee would be free for Value Added Service providers, but players in the sub-sector would pay a renewal fee of N200,000. For Entertainment (Big Brother Nigeria), allocation fee is N10 million, while renewal fee is pegged at N10 million. For other entertainment shortcodes, it will cost N2.5 million, and another N2.5 million for renewal.
For lottery operators, NCC said allocation fee is N10 million and renewal is N10 million. The same goes for betting service operators. Gaming operators are also expected to pay N200,000 and another N200,000 for renewal. Whereas, short-duration codes, especially for seasonal promotions, NCC pegged allocation fee at N250, 000 and renewal N250, 000.