The public will have to accept electronic payment channels as their default form of payment, to stay safe as scientists predict that the Coronavirus will linger on for a while. This is because quite a number of electronic payment channels do not require physical contacts for payments to be effected.
Ghana has been rolling out a number of measures to help in the fight against the spread of the pandemic, including a partial lockdown at a point and currently, restrictions on social gathering among others. However recent conversations globally point to a gradual easing of restrictions, to allow life to return to what is being described as the new normal.
Speaking in an interview, the Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), Mr Archie Hesse said electronic payment is one of the ‘new normal’ that must be adhered to, in order to live with the virus. He explained that there are several electronic payment options that do not require physical contact and urged the public to consider them as their default mode of payment, even if Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.
Cash transactions have been described as a possible conduit for the spread of COVID-19 if the use of cash remains high. In advanced countries where e-commerce and electronic payment channels are common, the concerns about cash spreading the virus are hardly talked about, but Ghana is confronted with this challenge.
The Bank of Ghana, GhIPSS and financial institutions have been campaigning for the use of electronic payment options. But there are fears that people’s adherence to this advice could wane if restrictions are relaxed. But the GhIPSS Boss said a sustained campaign by all stakeholders could be helpful. He, therefore, urged financial institutions to continue to encourage their customers to use their electronic payment solutions.
The GhIPSS CEO noted that traders and businesses in general play a crucial role in getting the public to use more of the electronic payment channels. He explained that once merchants, including micro-scale operators such as table-top or corner shops, agree to accept mobile money and transfers from bank accounts, many people will find the need to use more of these channels than cash.
Mr Hesse, therefore, encouraged shop owners to accept at least the basic electronic payment channels such as mobile money. “Big shops and businesses can accept a whole range of electronic channels such as GIP, ACH, and other electronic transfers, while the medium can do the QR codes and even the bank transfers but there should be no excuse for people not to accept at least mobile money”, he stressed. “These electronic channels actually bring in more income to shop owners and businesses, because your customers have a wider option to pay you, including money that they do not readily have on them”, Mr Hesse added.
Mr Hesse urged the public to continue to observe the safety protocols and patronise businesses that give them electronic payment options.