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conta ctThe public is being advised to use payment options that reduces their contact with persons in order to reduce exposure to the corona virus. The need to use contactless forms of payment has become necessary following the report of 6 confirmed corona virus cases in Ghana.

Many people rely heavily on cash for payment but that will not be the best option in this era of the pandemic, as it increases contact and the currency notes could also serve as carriers. The use of mobile money for payment and other electronic payment options such as internet banking, mobile banking applications as well as others such as Automated Clearing House (ACH) are preferred channels of payment in the wake of the pandemic.

Speaking in an interview in Accra, the Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), Archie Hesse urged the people who have not signed up for electronic payment channels such as internet banking and mobile banking applications to do so in order to use them.  He also advised those who have already sign on to these electronic forms of payments to use them and reduce their use of cash.

“Even for the very basic transactions at market places, before you make any payment, ask if the person can receive mobile money, so that you pay with mobile money instead of cash”, Mr. Hesse emphasised. Mr. Hesse advised traders, shop owners and all merchants to accept mobile money and other contactless electronic forms of payments. “It is very important that those who sell to us must now prefer mobile money and other mobile payment options. Those who can, should even encourage their customers to pay them using internet banking. We have these contactless payment channels, let’s use them and save our own lives”, the GhIPSS Boss admonished.The GhIPSS CEO also advised corporate organisations to turn to ACH and other electronic forms of payment instead of cheques, since cheque increases chances of contact.

He commended banks who have sent out messages to their customers encouraging them to use electronic payment channels, saying that it was a step in the right direction. GhIPSS is in the process of rolling out QR codes, though this payment channel will require the physical presence of the customer, it none the less allow for the needed social distance, as the customer will only need to scan the displayed QR code, or dial the merchant’s code for those with feature phones. The world is reeling under the corona virus pandemic, and every effort to prevent its spread including payment, should be avoided, Mr. Hesse added.

moreThe use of GhIPSS instant pay (GIP) services continues to see huge jumps in volume as more people turn to the service. The volume of instant pay transactions between January and March this year, stood at a little over one million (1,007,510) representing a growth of 693.8 percent compared to 126,925 transactions during the same period last year.

GhIPSS Instant Pay is an electronic payment system that enables a customer to transfer money from one bank account to another of a different bank or to a wallet and the transfer is effected instantly. 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.

Electronic payment channels have become very important in the wake of the novel corona virus (Covid-19), as cash could be a channel of spreading the disease. Although a full assessment of the impact of Covid-19 on electronic payments is yet to be done, a further analysis of the data from GhIPSS shows a significant increase in GIP transactions in the month of March, when Ghana started recording its positive cases.

According to the figures, while GIP volumes in February this year drop by 7 percent compared to January of the same year, the volume of transactions increased in March by 53.6 percent. This shows that GIP was used many more times in March compared to January and February of 2020, a development attributable to increased use of electronic payments due to Covid-19.Instant Pay has become a preferred form of transfers for many across the world and Ghana has recorded the same trend since GhIPSS introduced it a couple of years ago.The Chief Executive of GhIPSS Archie Hesse explained that an overwhelming majority of GIP transactions involve people moving funds from their bank accounts to mobile money wallet of others or themselves. He added that this trend shows how convenient mobile money wallets have become for many people.  

The challenge however is that many people after moving funds from their bank account to mobile wallets, cash out to make payments. But with the launch of the universal QR code, funds stored in mobile money wallets can be used to make payment, Mr. Hesse further explained. GhIPSS last month launched the universal QR code which enables individuals to pay for goods and services by scanning displayed QR codes with their phones. Users of feature phones can also pay via QR Code by dialling a merchant’s number that will also be displayed at the location. Mr. Hesse is hopeful that GIP will continue to experience growth especially in this era of Covid-19 as more and more people turn to electronic payment channels.

qrcSome nine (9) banks are ready to provide QR code services to shop owners and other merchants, following the launch of the electronic payment service on Wednesday. This means that people who want to be set up to use QR Code, can approach them.

The banks which are ready include Ecobank, GCB bank, Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG), Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) and Zenith Bank. The rest are Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Republic Bank and Cal Bank. These financial institutions and others which will come on board later, will work with Fintechs to generate QR codes for merchants.

The Vice President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia launched the universal QR Code (GH QR) and the Proxy Pay electronic payment services. The two will add on to the plethora of electronic payment channels that the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has rolled out over the years.

With the QR code, customers can 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.

The Chief Executive of GhIPSS Archie Hesse was grateful to the banks for their support. He urged the remaining banks to quicken their processes and also get on board. Mr. Hesse indicated that shop owners and other merchants can approach any of the 9 banks and get set up to use the QR code. 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.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.

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There is continuous growth in the volume of instant pay, emphasising customers’ preference for real time payment. Until recently, payments in Ghana except cash, took at least three days for the recipient to get value. But that has since changed with the introduction of mobile money, express payment services and more importantly the GhIPSS Instant Pay (GIP).

GIP allows customers to transfer or receive money instantly through the banking system, using any of the electronic payment platforms such internet banking or mobile banking. According to the 2019 performance of electronic payment products report released by Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), the volume of GIP based transactions shot up in excess of 1,200 percent from 144,000 in 2018  to 1.9 million last year.

The growth in instant pay volumes has been consistent since it was launched, showing customers preference for real time payments. The Chief Executive of GhIPSS Archie Hesse has described GIP as, “as good as cash but even more secured”, suggesting that customers’ preference would keep growing.

In line with the obvious interest in real time payments, GhIPSS has set out to roll a number of other real time payments this year. Speaking during a recent interaction with the media in Accra, Mr. Hesse said there was going to be enormous focus on real time payment products. He spoke of the planned launch of a universal QR code payment which will ensure customers can use their phones to scan merchants QR codes and make instant payments. Another real time product that GhIPSS has lined up for the year, is christened Proxy Pay. This service will link individual customers’ phone number to a bank account, such that payments can be made instantly by just typing in the phone number instead of the 13 digit account number. Proxy Pay is to ensure easy payments as phone numbers are easy to recall and type. However, for corporate organisations, their bank accounts will be linked to their names, so that one can just type in a company’s name and effect payments electronically.

GhIPSS also intends to launch Request to Pay, which will enable customers of service providers to make payments when they receive bills from their service providers. These bills will be received through SMS text message with options for the customer to approve payment with funds from their bank account These real time payments are expected to create more convenience for customers and ensure security of their payments transactions.

qrcSuper markets, pharmacies, restaurants and shop owners in general are being asked to start talking to their banks and Fintechs to help them set up to use the QR Codes.

Universal QR Code will be launched in about two weeks. When it goes lives, customers can scan the codes displayed at the outlets with their smart phones to make payment. Customers 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 way to make payment. The Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) is therefore urging shop owners and businesses in general to ask their banks to set them up so they can also receive payments via QR Codes.

With QR codes, customers can pay from any bank account or any mobile money wallet. This implies that people who do not have cash on them, can still make payments by scanning or dialling the codes depending on whether they are using a smart phone or feature phone. The universal QR code is expected to be a game changer in Ghana’s cash-lite agenda.

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