Business News of 2014-02-12

Cashless Ghana in sight

Issuance of local cards for banking transactions is deepening across the country as the Ghana switch implementing body links all automated teller machines (ATMs) of universal banks and savings and loans companies.

The Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlement (GhIPSS), which is implementing various measures to ensure a cashless economy, is working with the ARB Apex Bank to link the ATMs of rural and community banks to the system to ensure that local cards could be issued and used in the remotest parts of the country.

Currently, GhIPSS has linked the ATMs of most universal banks in the country under a service branded “gh-link.” By this, a gh-link card issued locally is able to work in another ‘gh-link’ branded ATM, thus expanding the frontiers of basic banking activities such as withdrawing money, checking account balances and printing mini bank statements.

The Chief Executive Officer of GhIPSS, Mr Archie Hesse, told the media that the usage of the gh-link card had shot up significantly since its launch in 2012.

Over 40,500 transactions happened through gh-link ATMs in the first quarter of 2013 and by the second quarter the figure had shot up to 89,000.

The gh-link transactions continued to soar, registering 157,000 in the third quarter and 262,000 in the fourth quarter 2013.

Change

The GhIPSS said it was working with its partners to replace the current cards which had magnetic strips to chip-based cards, also known as EMVs, to reinforce its security and bring it to international standards.

In addition, the EMV cards come with higher storage capacity that would enable it to have more functions than it is currently capable of.

Mr Hesse said in line with making the gh-link ATMs more functional, the service would deploy 2,500 hybrid point-of-sale (P.O.S) devices, which could accept gh-link ATMs and other credit cards.

“We are already deploying these hybrid POS devices which will continue throughout the year to ensure they are busy,” he said.

Gh-link mobile

The GhIPSS is also rolling out gh-link for mobile phones. This will allow subscribers to perform simple to advanced transactions, such as checking account balances, moving cash across accounts and making payments to third parties.

“We believe we have the platform and will work without partners to deploy technology for the benefit of our clients, the financial institutions,” the GhIPSS chief executive said.

Foreign ATMs

Mr Hesse, however, expressed disappointment at some banks that have refused to issue out the local ATM cards but only foreign ones.

“I don’t understand why some banks are still issuing foreign ATMs for local transactions – even when all the business transactions of the users are local and in the domestic currency,” he quizzed.

Although the issuance of the local ATM cards, the gh-link cards, is mandatory, the implementing agency said it wanted to make more interventions to increase the presence of the platform across the country.