Ghana: Experts to begin work on new national electronic payment platform

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

A group of experts from Morocco is to begin the installation of the new National Switch, which will add some more features to the current existing one. The experts who arrived on Sunday will work with the staff of the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) to get the switch in place to enable the national electronic platform to perform more functions. The General Manager in charge of Project and Business Development at GhIPSS, Archie Hesse, explained that the roll out of the project would be in phases with the first phase expected to be completed by September, which would lead to a significant change in the payment system.

GhIPSS which was established by the Central Bank to build a solid national payment system has, as part of its objectives, to establish a national switch that would ensure total interoperability among the banks and also be able to connect all other switches, used by the telecommunications companies (telecos) and foreign switches. However, to achieve this objective, GhIPSS needs to expand the current national switch into a much extended one capable of supporting the various transactions.

The experts would use the first two weeks to complete the preliminary installations after which they could begin to customize the switch. According to Mr Hesse, when the first phase of the project is completed, the universal banks, the rural banks as well as the savings and loans companies would be able to operate together.

This means that all ATM cards can work in any ATM machine. This implies that bank customers would be able to use their traditional or e-zwich ATM card in just any ATM outlet. Currently, only cards affiliated to Visa enjoy this service in Ghana, but soon all ATMs would accept all cards.

Hesse said gradually Ghana was catching up with the most sophisticated payment systems in the world, adding that the installation of the new national switch would begin with a few banks on a pilot basis, until all banks were brought on board. He promised bank customers of exciting times and urged the public to start planning their businesses and lives along these developments. Hesse said the second phase would link the national switch to the platform of the telecommunications companies that were providing mobile money services.

When the telecommunication companies are connected to the national switch, their customers can use any of the mobile money services even if they are not subscribers to that network.

This would be possible because the mobile money platforms can interact through the national switch. He said the second phase of the project would link the national switch to other international switches such as Visa and Master cards. Hesse added that soon it would be possible for people to use their traditional ATM cards to make payments in shops that had Point of Sale devices, a service currently available to a few cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and the e-zwich.