Payment through cheques remain the most widely used medium of exchange and mode of payment in the country, a report by the automated clearing house facilitator, has indicated. A 2015 report compiled by the Ghana Interbank payment and settlement Systems (GhIPSS) indicated that the total value of clearing house activities hit GH¢146.34 billion, out of which cheque clearing amounted to GH¢108.76 billion at the close of 2015.
The turnout is 12 per cent higher than the GH¢96.81 billion cheque values that went through clearing in 2014, although the volume of transactions remained almost the same at 6.91 million in 2015, up slightly from 6.84 million the previous year.
According to the Chief executive Officer of GhIPSS, Mr Archie Hesse, the overwhelming resort to the cheque system meant it was still popular and GhIPSS, the company set up by the central bank to promote electronic payments and facilitate a cashless economy, could only make it better.
"In Ghana, cheque is still a main instrument we use for transactions. Therefore, as a payment company, we can´t shy away from it; we can make it better and ensure that it is safer, since there is still need for it," Mr Hesse stressed.
Speaking to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on the sidelines of an annual media interaction in Accra, Mr Hesse expressed the belief that the GhIPSS has put in place good infrastructure and products adequate enough to power a cash-lite society, but what was left was increased usage.
"We have put in place the needed infrastructure. But when it comes to usage it takes everybody and every segment of society to make it successful," Mr Hesse stated.
The CEO said the infrastructure made it possible for it to design services to suit various segments and possible users of their system, such as insurance companies, fund managers, associations and so on, saying "we are going to look at various sectors of the economy and see how they can use our system."
GhIPSS would therefore, pursue a number of activities during the year to increase adoption (the penetration) of the various services and products that it had introduced. For 2016, GhIPSS is not expecting to introduce new services but to take what it had developed to users to increase the volumes.
Usage of the country´s own biometric smartcard, e-zwich, also increased year-on-year ending December last year. The value of transactions conducted on the e-zwich platform increased by 238 per cent at the end of 2015 over 2014.
The volume of transactions also increased from 625,167 to a little over 2.25 million transactions within the period under review.
The feat is attributable mainly to increase in number card holders as the National Service Scheme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) and other state-run initiatives signed on to it.
GhIPSS is already concluding plans with the Controller and Accountant General´s Department (CAGD) to pay public sector workers through the e-zwich card. They are also working on creating an Automated Clearing House Portal for government payments which go through the Bank of Ghana. The portal is expected to be ready in February.
There are bulk payers and receivers such as the Electricity Company of Ghana and other large state corporations that are also putting in place their GhIPSS Instant Pay systems through their banks which would increase electronic means of payments, while reducing the cash-based activities.