Business News of Friday, 23 November 2012

Source: thebftonline

Cashless economy

The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPPS) has introduced “Gh-Link”, an interbank ATM transaction switching facility that will among others allow local cardholders from any bank to withdraw cash from any of the configured bank’s ATMs across the country.

Gh-Link is an interbank switching and processing system that interconnects switches of financial and third party institutions, thus providing a common platform to perform a number of interbank transactions in an effective and efficient manner under a secured system.

So far, 14 banks in the country -- including Zenith Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, UT Bank, UBA and Prudential Bank -- have configured their systems to access the service which seeks to offer convenient and timely financial solutions to customers of various banks in the country.

It is expected that all banks will roll onto the service by early next year, so as to provide their clients with seamless and modern electronic banking opportunities while boosting their client base.

Mr. Archie Hesse, Chief Executive Officer, GhIPPS, said the introduction of Gh-Link is evidence of the company’s vision to expand electronic banking services in its bid to transform the country into an electronic payment systems society.

“The interbank ATM transaction switching allows local cards to work in any ATM outlet irrespective of the bank the customer banks with, making it possible for any ATM cardholder in the country to withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM outlets in across the country.

“The platform will enable GhIPPS to introduce other services such as using local cards to shop through the use of point of sale devices (POS), as well as making payments online. We are also working with counterparts in French-speaking West African countries and Nigeria to interconnect with their switches in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

Mr. Hesse said the company will convert some automated teller machines into hybrids to accept e-zwich cards, while points of sale devices will be configured to accept all ATM cards.

“We are also 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 charged service.

“Despite the significant strides over the years, the team at GhIPPS will continue to work tirelessly to create further convenience for the banking public. I implore the banks and the general public to make full use of our innovative products and services,” he said.

Mr. Asare Akuffo, President of the Ghana Bankers Association (GBA) whose speech was read on his behalf, said the ATM code-sharing platform is timely and cost-effective as most banks are sometimes compelled to install ATMs at places that are underutilised just to satisfy the needs of some customers.

“Additionally, smaller banks can rely on the wider ATM outlets of other banks to reach out to their customers, thereby saving them huge investments required to deploy ATMs while calling on all banks to consider the option of pulling resources together -- cooperating with one another while competing at the same time.

“Ghana is highly respected globally, and therefore we need to work hard to ensure that our payment systems and banking in general matches up to the impression the world has of the country,” Mr. Akuffo said.