Business News of Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Source: Daily Guide

14 Banks Interconnect ATMs

FOURTEEN BANKS in the country have completed the process by which their customers can use each other’s automated teller machines (ATMs) while efforts are underway to enable visa and MasterCard to be endorsed to make such services universal in Ghana.

The process, known as Interbank ATM Transaction Switching and christened Gh-Link, will enable card holders to access their bank accounts from any automated teller machines anywhere in the country irrespective of whether the machines belong to their bankers or not.

Archie Hesse, CEO of the Ghana Interbank Payment & Settlements Systems (GhIPSS), disclosed this recently in Accra during the launch of the product.

“Globally, every country is leaning towards electronic payments because of the immense benefits and Ghana cannot be left behind.

“We began with the widely known e-zwich biometric smart card, added the cheque codeline clearing and cheque truncation which significantly reduced the clearing cycle to 24 hours from up to one week in some cases. We also introduced the Ghana automated clearing house which offered direct credit and direct debit transfer services.”

According to him, his outfit was in the process of making it possible for cheques to clear in a matter of hours, under an express clearing session, which also applies to interbank transfers carried out under the direct credit system. This is a premium offering and will attract a fee.

Mr Hesse continued that other services are expected to follow the introduction of the Gh-Link shortly, and these will include using local cards to shop using point of sale (PoS) devices and also making payments online.

“We will also be working with our counterparts in French-speaking West African countries and Nigeria to interconnect with their switches in the not-too-distant future.”

Millison Narh, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, congratulated GhIPSS and noted that currently there were 27 banks with more than 700 branches spread across the country, more than 100 rural community banks and over 50 non-bank financial institutions operating under various licences.

“To further the BoG’s quest for improved access to credit while lowering the cost of borrowing, three credit reference bureaus have been licensed to operate.

In the banking sector, total assets have increased steadily to GH¢25.1 billion (or 44.5 percent of GDP) as at September 2012, largely funded by domestic deposits. In nominal terms, credit to the private sector grew by 43.8 percent year-on-year and increased to 20.3 percent of GDP at the end of September 2012, from 15.5 percent of GDP in September 2009.

Asare Akuffo, president of Ghana Bankers’ Association (GAB), called on government to continue to give full support to GhIPSS to enable it to do even better.

“One way government can lend this support besides funding, is to patronise the services introduced by GhIPSS.”