A letter dated April 3, 2021 was signed by MTN Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, and it was addressed to the Chairman of Body of Banks’ CEOs, Herbert Wigwe.


Karl Toriola, managing director and chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, announced a decision to revert discount offered to banks on airtime sales to 4.5 percent commission.



The mobile network operator (MNO) had reduced banks’ commission from an average of 3.5 percent to 2.5 percent, this led to a disagreement between MTN and commercial banks.


“Our virtual meeting between yourself (Wigwe) and Segun Agbaje (MD of GTBank) on the one hand and myself (Toriola) and Modupe Kadri (chief financial officer of MTN Nigeria) on the other refers,” the letter read


In an attempt to resolve the current USSD recharge impasse, given the interventions from our regulators, we hereby agree The Banks revert to the status quo of 4.5% commission.


“However, the banks and MTN Communications Nigeria Plc, shall sit to agree on various options that will result in the reduction in the costs on 6th of April 2021.”


Commercial banks had asked MTN to reverse its action to the old commission or would block MTN airtime recharge services in both mobile banking applications and unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) payment channels.


MTN, with about 77 million subscribers, making up about 45 per cent of the total telecommunication market share in Nigeria, is arguably the largest telecommunication operator in the country.


Due to MTN’s refusal to revert back the commission percentage, commercial banks except Zenith Bank, which is connected directly to the MNO, denied customers access to the USSD platform, leaving many subscribers stranded and frustrated as they were informed to recharge their lines with physical cards.


The banks, except Zenith Bank which was connected directly to MTN, subsequently blocked MTN from their banking channels, leaving millions of customers stranded as they were unable to recharge virtually.


On Friday, Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, had said the issue encountered by MTN users through the USSD channel will be resolved soon.


On Saturday, MTN had offered alternative channels for its subscribers to use in recharging their lines such as dialling *904# and *606#, and other electronic payment platforms.


MTN had snubbed the banks and opted for fintech companies such as

  • Flutterwave,
  • Jumia Pay,
  • OPay,
  • Kuda,
  • Carbon and
  • BillsnPay for customers to recharge their phones

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