Lenders cut off Nigeria’s biggest telco from banking platforms

April 4, 2021

(Bloomberg) —

Some Nigerian lenders have cut off MTN Nigeria from their banking platforms, making it impossible for millions of customers to buy credit for their phones.

All lenders in Africa’s most populous country, except Zenith Bank, have taken MTN Nigeria off their platform, said Funso Aina, spokesman for the telecommunications company. The banks took the action after MTN reduced the commission paid to lenders for allowing customers use their platform to buy call credit, Aina said. Airtime sales are suspended through all banking channels — banking apps, USSD codes and even debit cards. MTN is the West African nation’s biggest telecom services provider with about 79 million subscribers.

“Dear Customer, our bank recharge channels are currently unavailable. Kindly recharge using physical cards. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you,” according to a text message sent to subscribers on Saturday.

MTN later provided 10 alternative platforms, including fintechs and its own mobile apps, that customers can use to make airtime purchases in a text message to subscribers late Saturday evening.

Banking channels are the preferred medium for many Nigerians to buy call credits on their phones because of the convenience it provides. Other telcos have not been affected by the action. The banks couldn’t be reached for comment.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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