NIGERIA: USSD transactions grew by 35%, hits N261m

Ife Ogunfuwa

The use of interbank instant payments on USSD platforms by bank customers received a significant boost in 2018, growing by 35 per cent in one year.

In 2017, instant transfer worth N92.4m were carried using the USSD codes of various banks in the country, which grew to N261.7m in 2018, a new report on interbank instant payment published by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme has shown.

USSD, which stands for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, is a type of banking that enables you to carry out transactions using shortcodes without the need for Internet connectivity.

Other services provided through USSD are account opening, balance enquiry, airtime vending, and bill payment, among others.

However, mobile apps were mostly used by bank customers to carry out interbank money transfer as the report stated that transactions valued at N324.3m were conducted on mobile apps in 2018.

Analysts at NIBSS described mobile apps as the most preferred channel for interbank money transfer in the country.

They said, “Recently, we have observed that USSD has made the most gains with regards to channel acceptance. While mobile apps still remain the most preferred channel with 44 per cent of total transactions, USSD is closely catching up.”

This channel has grown from 25 per cent usage in 2017 to 35 per cent in 2018 while the use of mobile apps has grown by just one per cent when compared to 2017.

According to the report, there is diminishing interest in transactions on other instant payment platforms like bank tellers, Internet banking, Automated Teller Machine, vendor merchants, among others.

NIBSS said, “At the inception of interbank transfers, bank tellers were the most preferred channel for transfers. However, over the past few years, interbank transfers have mostly been carried out via the use of mobile apps.

“The biggest losers were bank tellers and Internet banking channels; losing five per cent respectively. In summary, 79 per cent of the total transfer transactions were carried out using a mobile phone/tablet. With the total number of mobile phone users hitting 146 million as of January 2018, we expect the USSD to overtake the use of mobile apps in the not too distant future.”

Banks customers’ preference for mobile apps followed by USSD was also revealed in a 2018 study by Agusto and Co that examined the bank customers’ preferences and attitude towards digital banking.

The NIBSS report indicated that throughout the year, a total of 729.4 million transactions valued at N80.4tn were conducted via NIP.

According to the scheme, a larger percentage of the money transfer transactions originated from Lagos.

FCT and Rivers accounted for six per cent each; Ogun State represented five per cent of the payments while Oyo state accounted for four per cent only.

Gombe, Yobe, Kebbi, Zamfara and Jigawa states were identified as regions in the country with the least number of NIP transactions.

“Lagos remains the hub for instant payments yet again with 24 per cent of total transactions initiated by its inhabitants. The FCT and Rivers came in joint second with six per cent respectively of total transactions,” NIBSS said.