Business News of 2014-01-28

Issue more local cards to customers – GhIPSS

Banks have been urged to issue more of the proprietary ‘local’ Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards to their customers since it comes at a lower transaction cost with better convenience.

Some years back, many banks in the country issued a lot of international cards, because it enabled customers to have access to ATMs of other banks on those platforms.

But with the introduction of the national switch christened gh-link and accompanying set of services, holders of local cards can equally use any ATM outlet they come across as well as on hybrid Point of Sales (POS) terminals to shop even at a lower cost, in any part of the country.

Speaking in an interview, the Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems, (GhIPSS) Archie Hesse said it made more economic sense for banks to issue more of the local cards.

He explained that the transaction cost was lower for both the bank and their customers.

Also customers with local ATM cards had access to a wider network of ATMs more than the international cards such as the Visa.

Local card holders have access to ATMs of all the 27 banks and 5 savings and loans companies.

Soon, Rural and Community Banks will also be added to further increase the number. Additionally some 20,000 hybrid POS’s will be deployed.

Mr. Hesse stated that since majority of Ghanaians do not travel outside the country, there was no need to burden them with international cards, which are more expensive with fewer outlets.

He urged the banks to give better services to their customers by giving them the local cards, which have more benefits and make international cards optional for those who would request for them.

He said the local cards, are now being used to shop through Point of Sales Terminals and very soon, it will be possible to use them to make payment on the internet, an infrastructure, which is already in place and will go live in the second quarter of the year.

Mr. Hesse said the days when users of local cards were disadvantaged were long gone and it will be better customer service, if more bank customers were issued with the local cards, to enable them to enjoy lower transaction cost and access to more ATMs, POSes and online shopping.

Ghana and Nigeria are working closely to integrate their national payment systems. When this is completed, local cards in Ghana would work in ATMs, POSes, on the internet and mobile money in Nigerian and vice versa and eventually extended to cover the Francophone West African countries through UEMOA.

This development, which is far advanced, will also give added advantage to the local cards, Mr. Hesse added.

Ghana’s payment system has seen significant improvement since the establishment of GhIPSS and a lot of new offerings are expected to be introduced this year, according to Mr. Hesse.

He mentioned that the patronage of gh-linked ATMs continue to witness massive growth month by month, “this is an indication that customers appreciate the convenience that it brings, so let’s get more people to enjoy wider network at a cheaper cost” he stressed.

The GhIPSS, set up by the Bank of Ghana, has the mandate to migrate Ghana’s payment system into an electronic payment society, a feat which is very much on course with the introduction of electronic clearing of cheques, express bulk fund transfers through Automated Clearing House, e-zwich Payment Distribution System and gh-link services.

The Bank of Ghana subsidiary is also going to make payment through mobile phones, universal to all banks this year.