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Mr Archie Hesse, the Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Ltd (GhIPSS), has urged Ghanaians to adopt electronic payment as a life style to enable the country to derive maximum benefits from the existing infrastructure.  

He said both service providers and consumers must lean toward electronic payment in offering services and consuming them. GhIPSS, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana, has been in existence for a decade and has together with financial institutions rolled out a number of electronic payment channels.

The telecommunication companies (telcos) have also rolled out electronic payment channels working with financial institutions and Fintech companies. These two broad platforms will eventually be linked in a total interoperability project being championed by the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia Speaking in an interview, Mr Hesse said the complete interoperability of the financial system should make payment seamless and convenient from varied electronic channels.

However, he said, this leap in the country’s payment system must be accompanied with a shift from cash to an electronic payment lifestyle.

He said the acceptance of cards, mobile money and other electronic forms of payment such as Instant Pay, Direct Credit and Debit should become the norm.

Mr Hesse said utility companies, government agencies and private businesses should offer electronic payment channels such as mobile money, point of sales devices and the likes and even offer incentives to customers who use them.  

He explained that because the use of these channels saved the companies money, they could take part of the savings and offer them as the incentives to the customers.

He explained that such motivations and a general policy direction from government should help migrate Ghana into an electronic payment society.

Mr Hesse suggested that government agencies should allow the public to pay taxes, levies and fees through electronic payment channels because it would bring convenience to the paying public while it will result in efficiency in revenue mobilisation.

He said GhIPSS together with the banks and telcos would continue to educate public and promote the various channels, adding that GhIPSS would also engage service providers and encourage them to eventually make electronic payment the regular mode of payment.

GNA

About 23 banks, four third party companies as well as a savings and loans company are now offering the GhIPSS Instant Pay (GIP) service to the public. The GIP is an electronic payment system that allow bank customers to transfer funds from one account to another of a different bank in a matter of seconds.

GhIPSS Instant Pay is the fastest interbank payment system and it also offers the public one of the fastest ways to send or transfer money within the country. The Chief Executive of GhIPSS Archie Hesse explained that besides the use of GIP for interbank transfers, banks and Fintech companies could use it to develop several other value-added services.

“A lot of online transactions are taking place in Ghana, some with online payments others without. Fintech companies can enter that space and use GIP to provide real time payment solutions,” Mr Hesse said.

He said GhIPSS would continue to engage with stakeholders to drive patronage for GIP.

The introduction of GIP started slowly with just a handful of banks offering the service. But due to its numerous advantages, all the key banks in addition to firms providing electronic financial services are on board offering it.

GhIPSS Instant Pay and mobile money have been tipped as the two electronic payment platforms that can rapidly deepen financial inclusion in the country and also reduce the use of cash.

Countries such as Nigeria are witnessing a significant drop in the use of cash because of similar payment options and it is anticipated that Ghana will experience a similar trend.

Currently, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), is working jointly with the banks to educate the public and encourage them to use the GIP service. The Third Party Companies are: Etranzact, ExpressPay, ATL Pay and MoneyLine UK.

The only savings and loans company providing the service is First Allied Savings and Loans company. All the country’s major banks including Standard Chartered Bank, GCB Bank, Barclays Bank, Ecobank, Agriculture Development Bank, Universal Merchant Bank and HFC bank are offering the service.

The rest are Zenith Bank, Stanbic Bank, National Investment Bank, Cal bank, Energy Bank, Royal Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, and First National Bank. Other banks such as Capital Bank, Prudential Bank, United Bank of Africa, Access Bank and Heritage Bank are also offering GIP.

Early entrants, Sovereign Bank and Premium Bank are also in the league of financial institutions offering it. According to Mr Hesse the rest of the banks are at various stages of preparedness to also start offering the service.

Mr Hesse said GhIPSS Instant Pay is extremely convenient and encouraged the banking public to ask for the service from their banks.

GNA

Enrolment of enterprises and individuals to offer e-zwich services is underway in major towns in the Brong Ahafo region.  The move is to make e-zwich services available to as many people as possible.

A team from the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) is presently in the Brong Ahafo region and will enroll agents in Sunyani, Brekum, Techiman and Goaso. Madam Gertrude Ati who is leading the GhIPSS team, said every effort was being made to bring e-zwich services closer to the people.

She said besides creating convenience for the public, the creation of e-zwich agents also presented business opportunities to the prospective agents. So far over 300 agents had been set up nationwide and GhIPSS hoped to add another 60 from the Brong Ahafo region.

The team from GhIPSS would visit other regions to set other agents up.

Apart from the agents and banks, some ATMs are being converted to accept e-zwich cards. This is evident by the fingerprint readers on the ATMs.  “e-zwich hasproven to be efficient and cost effective for companies which had employees dotted round the country. The card’s ability to work offline also makes it extremely useful in rural areas where network connectivity is a challenge,” she said.

Patronage of e-zwich services had gone up following its usage by both private and public sector institutions to pay various forms of emoluments. The volume of transaction between January and March this year was a little over 2 million compared to about 750 thousand transactions during the same period in 2016, according to the first quarter performance report by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Ltd. (GhIPSS).  This represent a growth of 170 percent.

The report also indicated that the value of transactions was up at over 655 million Ghana Cedis in the first quarter of the year compared to 428 million Ghana Cedis for the same period last year. Following the increased usage of the biometric smartcard, GhIPSS had been training and setting up agents.

e-zwich cardholders can go to these agents to withdraw, transfer or load cash onto their cards and the agents would complement the financial institutions who until this initiative, were the only providers of e-zwich services.

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