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Ghana has become the first country in Africa and 3rd country in the world to roll out a national Quick Response (QR) Code payment system, following the formal outdooring of Ghana’s Universal QR Code on Thursday, November 19, 2020.

 
Ghana’s Universal QR Code, unique in its ability to meet the needs of both banked and unbanked customers, is the first of its kind in the world, and is a key plank in government’s efforts to ensure financial inclusion, and follows the successful implementation of Mobile Money Interoperability.
 
It allows customers to make Instant payments for goods and services from different funding sources (mobile wallets, cards, bank accounts) by scanning a quick response code on a smartphone, or dialing the USSD Code of the payment service provider and following the prompts to make payment.
 
Demonstrating the practical use of the Code, Vice President Bawumia, accompanied by the Minister of Communications, Hon Ursula Owusu Ekuful, bought packs of local delicacy waakye from the famous Auntie Muni and paid for it from his phone.
 

“Today is a historic day. Once again, we are moving to solve a major problem in our society, making it easier to access and pay for goods and services,” a delighted Dr Bawumia stated.

“Ours is a cash-based economy, which is very inefficient.
 
Historically, many have been excluded from the financial system, but we have since been working to make Ghana’s economy a cash-lite, more efficient one, with the introduction of the Mobile Money Interoperability and today, Universal QR Code.
 
 

“A cash-lite economy has so many advantages. It promotes transparency, prevents robberies, helps the growth of e-commerce and fintech, and in this day of Covid 19, cash, which is a known spreader of the disease can be avoided by using the QR Code.”

 
Vice President Bawumia disclosed that 13 banks have so far rolled out the QR Code, while telcos Vodafone and Airtel-Tigo have also joined, with MTN on the verge of doing so.
 

Dr Bawumia praised the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Communications, Bank of Ghana, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), telcos and fintechs for once again achieving the seemingly impossible, and pledged government’s commitment to ensuring greater financial inclusion.

The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) and its Chief Executive Archie Hesse have for the second year running won awards at the prestigious Ghana Information Technology & Telecom Awards (GITTA) held in Accra.

 
Mr. Hesse was adjudged the Payment Systems Personality of the Year, while GhIPSS won the Payments and Clearing Technology Provider of the Year.
 
The awards are in recognition of the role of GhIPSS and its CEO in driving electronic payments in Ghana.
 
A statement issued by the GITTA states that, the GITTA award recognizes not only the products and diverse innovations that keep the ICT & Telecom sector thriving but also the companies and people who make the industry great. The award was open to all players and stakeholders in the ICT ecosystem.
 

GITTA is considered the most celebrated ICT awards, attracting the crème de la crème and top decision-makers in the sector.
It is organized in partnership with the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications.

“Ghana has witnessed a significant transformation of its payment system since the establishment of GhIPSS by the Bank of Ghana over a decade ago. The organization has over the years introduced a number of electronic payment services which have made payments quicker, safer and more convenient, including interbank and cross-platform transactions,” the statement noted.
 
 
 
Last year, GhIPSS introduced the GhDual card, which is a single card that serves as e-zwich and gh-link card at the same time. This year, it has so far introduced three different products namely GhQR code, Proxy Pay and Direct Credit Near Real Time.
 
The GhIPSS Boss said in an interview that they are challenged by the awards to continue to work hard in fulfilling the mandate to migrate Ghana into an electronic payment society.
 
He said available statistics clearly show that electronic payment was on the rise, adding that GhIPSS will continue to work assiduously with its partners to drive various forms of digital payments in Ghana.
 

Mr. Hesse hinted that a lot of efforts was going to be directed at promoting the GhQR code and was hopeful that it was goin

GhIPSS introduces Near Real Time Payment platform for bulk payments

Direct Credit

 

The Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), a subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana, has introduced a Near Real Time (NRT) Automated Clearing House (ACH) Direct Credit platform that allows Corporate Institutions to make bulk payments much faster.

The service, being rendered in collaboration with the banks, is designed to enhance the efficiency of making bulk payments such as salaries, pensions and dividends within just 15 minutes, instead of the previous four to 24 hours.

A statement from GhIPSS said the platform provided corporate Institutions a viable alternative to Cheques and allowed them to credit the accounts of beneficiaries on a bulk payments list within 15 minutes. NRT is an addition to GhIPSS’ existing ACH Direct Credit platform.

This means, under this new ACH DC NRT regime, it will take 15 minutes for money sent from one source account to multiple accounts in different banks to be credited to the receivers’ accounts instead of the previous 24 hours.

“Corporate institutions have the opportunity to make bulk payments anytime between 6:00pm the previous day and 3:00pm the following day and the payees’ accounts will be credited in 15 minutes – almost in real time,” it explained.

GhIPSS said NRT is an efficient payment option, which provided transparency and certainty of payments because it allowed banks of corporate institutions to re-present returned payment details within the same session.

“Corporate institutions can correct all payment errors for re-presentment without fear of missing payment timelines,” it explained adding that the system also allowed for deadline payments to be met quickly.

“ACH DC NRT can be accessed by organisations through their banks as well as savings and loans companies for the payments of salaries, allowances, pensions, welfare benefits, suppliers and all other bulk payment types.”

The statement quoted GhIPSS CEO, Archie Hesse as saying, “Direct Credit NRT is a major addition to the plethora of electronic payment solutions, which will be extremely useful to businesses and other organizations.”

He encouraged organisations seeking to make faster bulk payments, to use the NRT to ensure that intended recipients received the money almost immediately.

ACH DC is a secure and reliable bulk payments service, which allows corporate institutions to make single or batched payments by electronically transferring funds directly into different bank accounts across different banks within Ghana.

It comes in three forms – Standard ACH DC, Express ACH DC and now the newly introduced ACH DC NRT.

Standard ACH DC allows businesses to make bulk payments to different beneficiary accounts across different banks and recipients’ accounts are credited within 24 hours after payment lists have been submitted to the paying corporate institution’s bank.

However, Express ACH DC allows that same process within four hours, while the now ACH NRT has reduced the time to 15 minutes.

GhQR logo designThe public can now pay for goods and services through the universal Gh QR code, as some six banks have started deployment. The banks are Ecobank, GCB Bank, Zenith Bank, Bank of Africa, Fidelity Bank and Agriculture Development Bank. The remaining banks are still in the process to enable them begin the rollout.

The GhQR code service was in March this year. The service adds on to the plethora of electronic payment solutions that the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has rolled out over the years.

With the QR code, customers only need to scan the codes displayed at various shops and other outlets with their smart phones to make payment. Those who do not have smart phones can pay with their feature phones by dialling a code that will also be displayed at the merchant's location. QR code is cheap and easy to set up. It is also a quick and secure way to make payment. It takes away the direct contact associated with cash transactions, which makes it safer to use during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ecobank had earlier deplored QR codes but could only be used by their customers. However with the introduction of the Gh QR code, Ecobank has converted most of their existing QR codes of clients, to make them acceptable to all customers regardless of their banks. The other five banks have begun deploying their Gh QR codes at various outlets.

Chief Executive of GhIPSS Mr. Archie Hesse commended the banks that have started deployment and encouraged businesses to liaise with banks to have the Gh QR code installed to increase their payment options to customers. Mr. Hesse also challenged the remaining banks to quicken up the processes, as they risk losing their clients to other banks.

The QR code for payment is simple to set up as it only involves generating unique QR codes which can be a mere sticker posted on the wall of the shops or on a small stand. “Once you find the QR Code displayed, you just have to scan and you pay or dial the USSD code and pay, it is that convenient. Gh QR is universal so anyone can use any of them, regardless of your bank”, Mr. Hesse stressed.

A wide range of businesses including taxi drivers, small shops, super markets, pharmacies, chop bars, restaurants as well as major service providers can all use QR codes to accept payments, the GhIPSS Boss noted.

Ghana’s payment system has been modernised with the introduction of many electronic payment solutions that have made payment a lot more convenient, secure and faster. The addition of the Gh QR code has increased the choice that customers have to pay for goods and services. This will eliminate the several instances where businesses lose out, because the customer has run out of cash.

Currently customers can pay from either their bank account or mobile money wallet through different channels such as MoMo pay, POS and now Gh QR code among others.

The transaction volume for the GhIPSS Instant Pay (GIP), Ghana’s real-time interbank transfer service,  has gone up by almost 600 per cent in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The volume of GIP transactions at the end of June 2020 stood at 2.45 million compared to 350,666 for the same period in 2019.

GIP is an electronic payment system that enables a customer to transfer money from one bank account to another of a different bank or a wallet instantly.

Commenting on the performance, Mr Archie Hesse, the Chief Executive Officer of GhIPSS, said that the persistent growth in GIP transactions was largely because it had allowed people to make and receive payments instantly even without the need to move to a banking hall."With increasing advocacy for electronic payment options due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is anticipated that GIP will continue to enjoy high usage," he said.

Though instant pay can be accessed from the banking halls, it is mostly available on the various internet and mobile banking platforms of the banks. Many Fintechs also ride on the GIP technology for their money transfer services.

Mr Hesse said GhIPSS would enhance public education on GIP to ensure that more people are aware of the service and use it to make payments more convenient and efficient.

He is hopeful that GIP will continue to record growth in patronage as more people turn to electronic forms of payments."With increasing advocacy for electronic payment options due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is anticipated that GIP will continue to enjoy high usage," he said. Mr Hesse expressed the hope that with GIP and Mobile Money Interoperability, two very important payment interventions, people outside the banking sector can be included in the formal financial sector.

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