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Opinions of Friday, 16 September 2011

Columnist: Atiemo, Paul Obeng

E Zwich - The Killer Card

The introduction of the E-zwich smart card, as a means of limiting physical cash involvement in transactions as well as enhancing safety in making payments was hailed as a brilliant idea nationwide.

Subsequently, to gain the market and encourage usage by this generation and the next, students especially those at the tertiary were coerced to sign on to the E-zwich smart card, as acquisition of the card is a pre-requisite to accessing the Students’ Loan and other students’ related stipend.

In the course of time, the National Service Secretariat also announced to all ‘fresh graduates’ to as well sign on to the e- zwich card since their monthly stipend would be paid via that card.

With students as the immediate and largest market of the E-zwich card services, the transactional tariffs associated with usage of the E-zwich card is overly expensive and outrageous. That is, despite the meager sums paid unto the E-zwich card as stipend, an amount of GHc0.75 is charged per transaction of an amount up to GHc90 whilst approximately GHc1.50 is charged per transaction of money involving GHc200 etc.

Furthermore, the high fees associated with withdrawals also extend to deposits made unto the E-zwich card i.e. payments made unto the card attract same charges as withdrawal fees stated above, making charges in operating an E- zwich card dual. In summery, approximately one-hundredth (1/100th) of whatever amount is deposited unto an E-zwich card is charged as tariff at deposit and withdrawal, besides an online upload fee of GHc0.50. Conclusively, money paid unto the E-zwich smart card is devalued.

With these exorbitant charges, one would have hoped for improved and progressive services with respect to the E-zwich card ussage. Unfortunately, that is not the situation, as very few Points of Sale Centers are available throughout the whole country.

Notwithstanding the poor services but high tariffs characterized with usage of this ‘killer card’, it is bitterly a pre-requisite to accessing funds in the areas of Students’ Loan and National Service stipends, without which you would be denied funds in this regard. Moreover,public service workers and civil servants shall soon be paid via this E- zwich card.

An instance which has the tendency of escalating the already aggravated and repugnant difficulties associated with current users of the ‘killer cards’ (E-zwich card). In view of this, I want to sincerely appeal to the Students’ Loan Trust Fund Secretariat (SLTF), the National Service Secretariat (NSS) as well as other related organizations in the business of giving loans to students, to make open their mode of funds transfer to persons under their scope, so as to enable beneficiaries of their services avoid the frustration and irrelevant high charges associated with usage of the ‘killer cards’/E-zwich smart card. In conclusion, if managers of this ‘killer cards’ (E-zwich smart cards) wants people to ‘vampire’, they should turn their attention to different persons, perhaps the well to do in society and not poor students who mainly depend on meager loans and stipends. Again, the Bank of Ghana or whichever the supervising authority is, should step up efforts to ensure efficiency in service delivery by the Ghana Inter Bank Payment Settlement System (managers of the ‘killer cards’ or E-zwich cards) as value for money is sunken.

The truth shall be said at all times, damn the consequences. We shall overcome!

Paul Obeng Atiemo

Student, KNUST paulaoben@yahoo.com/ facebook / www.opatiemo.blogspot.com