TELECOMS

Nigeria: MTN Decries Over N10 Billion Interconnect Debt

MTN Nigeria has decried the interconnect debt of N10 billion owed it by private telephone operators (PTOs) and Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (Nitel) and its mobile subsidiary , Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTel) which has not been paid since 2002.

A top official of MTN who did not want is name disclosed stated that Nitel owed MTN N5 billion of the total amount. He said that "Several operators however failed to make timely payment of their interconnect obligations in breach of a contractual and regulatory provisions."

He said the interconnect exchange operators licenced by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2004 to reduce the debts has however failed to make any meaningful impact as the debts still remained. Many of the private telephone operators are indebted to the major mobile operators like MTN, Glo, Airtel, Etisalat, Visafone and Starcomms.

In another development, global credit card company, Visa and MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries. The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their mobile money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

Visa said the service would allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online. According to MTN and Visa, the product has been designed to meet the needs of the unbanked and under-banked.

Chief Executive Officer of Fundamo, Hannes van Rensburg, said: "In the past, issuing Visa cards to unbanked customers has been a challenge because the availability of Visa services has been limited. But now, this brings the Visa service together with the already well-established ecosystem of the MTN Mobile Money platform."

Group Chief Commercial Officer,MTN, Christian De Faria, said while it has always been somewhat of a struggle for consumers to find a merchant that would accept a mobile wallet payment, the partnership with Visa means MTN Mobile Money customers can take advantage of Visa's global interoperability.

Source: Leadership (Abuja)

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