There is confusion among SMEs and customers in Nigeria following inability to recharge MTN lines with airtime and data via banks.
In a recent policy flip, the South African firm did not only compel SMEs, who aggregate data and airtime sales, to push only MTN platforms, it also cut down commissions on sales.
In a letter to its partners, titled NOTIFICATION OF REVISED DISCOUNT STRUCTURE, made available to Vanguard, the telecommunication giant explained the reduction in discount with effect from 1st of April.
A source said in spite of inconvenience to millions of Nigerian, MTN told its partners to “pacify customers and educate them to use MTNToplt, MoMo channels, as well as the debit card options on MOD or myMTN App.”
The fresh move is coming just after its hiking of transfer charges on USSD and a year after the Nigerian government pardoned it over $2 billion dodged taxes.
An MTN user said the signal he gets each time he tries to recharge his phone on one of the banks’ app was “Unavailale”.
An SMS sent to users of the network reads: “Dear customers, our bank recharge channels are currently unavailable, kindly recharge using physical cards. We apologise for the inconvenience. Thank you.”
Another, a web master, who tried to buy data, said Airtel’s platform kept popping up.
Stakeholders fear that the recent moves by MTN will ruin SMEs in the country, given the previous policies that are making it difficult for business owners to break even.
One said MTN had long sought to monopolise the telco space, almost paralysed Nigeria’s nascent renewable energy sector with its battery product.
“Meanwhile, even South Africans don’t seem to trust MTN; for example, at the end of 2019, MTN’s revenue grew by 12.6 per cent in Nigeria and 22.9% in Ghana, but in South Africa, revenue only grew by 0.4%,” some stakeholders noted.
“The biggest casualties of MTN’s aggressive exploitation of Nigeria are not just the SMEs who are seeing their commissions constantly cut down till they die out of business; ordinary Nigerians bear the biggest brunt, without even knowing it.
“Nigeria has among the most expensive mobile data prices in the world, more than 10 times what Indians pay.
“Telcos like MTN take advantage of their massive size to keep the price of data high so that they can keep extracting money from unsuspecting citizens and a hapless country, all the while repatriating all the money to South Africa and not paying their fair share in taxes.
“It is yet to be known if for once, the Nigerian government and even big private institutions will stand up and stay strong to this drowning of Nigerian SMEs and daylight robbery of the country,” a statement noted.