Ecobank Nigeria has announced that access to its *326# Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) is at zero cost to the consumer. By this announcement an Ecobank customer who performs transactions on the bank’s platform by dialling *326# is free of the USSD session fee.
Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria who declared this at the ongoing 2019 Nigeria Fintech Week in Lagos, said all stakeholders must come together to make USSD short code services free to all users, as a key initiative to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria. He noted that for the industry to grow, all stakeholders should allow consumers to access banking and financial services such as the USSD shortcodes at zero session use cost, to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria and further drive its economic development.
Mr Akinwuntan, who asked stakeholders to adopt the strategy of shared infrastructure that will enable easy compliance to the risk and regulatory policies, opined that skills development is at the top of core requirements for successful digital platform proliferation. In his words “when the ecosystem comes together, we can unlock value for all partners and ensure rapid innovation. Clients’ data protection and the professional handling of this data are key to instilling consumer confidence in the system, and the entire ecosystem is only as strong as its weakest link. All participants need to adopt world-class standards for ensuring cybersecurity for the good of our customers”.
Furthermore, the Ecobank Managing Director said that in order to achieve a digitized Africa, countries must have positive regulatory oversight that encourages and facilitates collaboration amongst all stakeholders to unleash value which will include the much-needed investment in awareness and digital payment usage.
In his comment, President of the Fintech Association of Nigeria, Dr Segun Aina said the Nigeria Fintech Week brings together various organizations and individuals in the disruptive technology ecosystem both within and outside Nigeria. He further stated that the association has recorded in excess of four thousand participants across various sectors from over twenty countries across all the continents who have registered to attend different aspects of the week’s events.
“With the quality, diversity and comprehensiveness of the Nigeria Fintech Week, this annual event has obviously received overwhelming market acceptance and endorsement as the main annual Fintech and digital stakeholder platform to look forward to. We, therefore, expect all stakeholders to use the Nigeria Fintech Week as the main annual platform to showcase Nigerians creativity and remarkable exploits in value-enhancing Fintech products and services”, he noted.
The Fintech Association of Nigeria was created during the 1st National Fintech Conference in 2017 and can today boast of over one hundred institutional members from nine sectors of the economy all working together to connect, accelerate and advocate. Similarly, the Africa Fintech Network was inaugurated during the 3rd National Fintech Conference and the maiden Africa Fintech Festival in December 2018. Today, less than one year after its inauguration, the association has twenty-nine member countries and country National Fintech Associations. The Africa Fintech Network has been collectively supportive of continental initiatives such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) and Digital Africa, built global partnerships and recognized by the African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, Afreximbank and others. These self-regulated entities have brought needed coordination to the Fintech ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa with linkages to and alliances with similar organisations in other markets across the world.