Government yesterday slashed unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) charges by more than half to 5 cents per session effective July 1, as it moves to accelerate the use of e-payments.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
USSD is a Global System for Mobile communication technology that is used to send text between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network. All banks use USSD in doing mobile money and internet banking transactions.
Before the review, the cost was 12,5 cents per session.
Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security minister Supa Mandiwanzira told journalists in Harare yesterday, the review of the USSD charges was meant to address the high transaction cost of e-payments and increase financial inclusion.
“To ensure that this reduction benefits the transacting public, the authority [Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe] has engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who will engage financial service providers so that the reduction is passed on to the transacting public,” he said.
Financial institutions have been smiling all the way to the bank on charges aided by the cash shortages which has spawned the use of e-payments.
Mandiwanzira said the out of bundle mobile data charges threshold shall be reduced from the current average rate of 12,5 cents per megabyte to five cents per megabyte exclusive of all taxes. This applies to internet/data that is used outside the WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter bundles among others, he said
He said the national interconnection rates would be halved to 2 cents per minute exclusive of all taxes. This applies across all interconnecting operators.
Mandiwanzira said the thresholds for mobile voice and SMS shall be reviewed in due course. He said fixed voice charges would be left to market forces subject to regulatory approval. Internet or data charges for internet access providers services would be left to market forces subject to regulatory approval, Mandiwanzira said.
The review is a culmination of the completion of a cost modelling exercise for telecommunication network services in Zimbabwe covering mobile, fixed and Internet Access networks. The costing exercise was done by Detecon on behalf of Potraz and premised on the long run incremental costing models that were built in 2014 by Detecon.
Mandiwanzira said extensive consultations were done with telecommunication operators and other stakeholders on the implementation of the 2017 long run incremental costing models.
He said Potraz took into account the prevailing economic environment as well as the competing needs of ensuring operator viability and service affordability for the consumers.
“These need to be balanced to ensure the delivery of high quality innovative services and applications which are critical in enhancing consumer welfare, business continuity and the country’s overall business competitiveness,” Mandiwanzira said.