Business News of 2014-06-28

Interbank payment to be effected instantly

Paying a third party through the banking system will be a lot faster with the planned introduction of an instant payment system this year. This electronic payment system will enable money transferred from one account to another to be credited to the receiver instantly, making interbank payment happen in real-time.

The Ghana Interbank Payment Systems (GhIPSS) is introducing the instant payment system and has already completed its’ end of the process. What is left is for the banks to connect and be able to offer the service to their customers. This has become possible because of the national electronic platform that interconnects all the banks in the country, which is the core function of GhIPSS as was set up by the Bank of Ghana.

Currently, transfers from one bank account to another will take not less than 3 hours even under express transactions through a system known as Direct Credit under the Automated Clearing House (ACH); and 24 hours if it is not under express transaction, which is also another initiative by GhIPSS. But with the new product, a customer can request a transfer and it will hit the account of the recipient instantly. Such a payment system will come in handy for businesses that want a quick and safe way of making or receiving payments.

GhIPSS last year met with banks in the country and discussed potential interbank electronic payment services that could be developed. The instant payment stood out as the preferred product by the bankers in that meeting. Sources say the central bank has also met with heads of the banks, at which time it was agreed the banks would speed up the processes to ensure the instant payment system becomes a reality.

In an era of information technology, many people find it unacceptable that interbank transfers cannot happen in real-time. The introduction of the instant payment system will therefore help a great deal.

Chief Executive of GhIPSS, Archie Hesse who confirmed progress on the introduction of the interbank instant payment service, said it will encourage businesses to use the banking system since they are assured of instant payment transactions from one bank account to another. Mr. Hesse is hopeful that the banks will latch onto it so that their customers can benefit. He said a pilot will begin with a few banks before all other banks come on board.

Ghana still has a huge unbanked population, and many argue that business people are keeping their monies outside of the banking system because of the delays associated with banking. But with the introduction of services such as the instant payment, and the roll-out of Point of Sale terminals which significantly improve people’s access to their monies at the banks, it is anticipated that the unbanked population will significantly reduce over time.