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Business News Mon, 13 Aug 2012

E-zwich smart card patronage sees 500 per cent jump in half-year

The use of e-zwich biometric smart card saw about a 500 per cent growth in patronage of some of the services in the six months to June this year, data from Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has shown.

Data from GhIPSS across various e-zwich transactions shows that while patronage increased for most services by over 50 per cent on the average between January and March this year, the usage shot up by huge margins between March and June.

According to the figures, the value of sales transactions involving e-zwich went up from over 400,000 Ghana cedis in January to 4.5 million Ghana cedis by June.

The increase in value of transactions over the six months also corresponded with the volume which rose from over 700 transactions in January to over 7,200 by June.

Similar trends were recorded for cash deposits and withdrawals on e-zwich, as well as card to card transfers over the six months period.

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The use of e-zwich for payment of salaries and other forms of emolument known as the Payment Distribution System (PDS) jumped to almost 14 million Ghana cedis by June from 1.1 million Ghana cedis.

Mr. Archie Hesse, Chief Executive Officer, said there was a steady growth in the use of e-zwich, adding that the number of companies using the electronic payment systems for bulk payments was increasing while individuals were doing a lot of internal funds transfers with e-zwich.

Mr. Hesse said the use of cards for payment for goods and services remained a challenge, adding however that, soon all traditional Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards could be used in Point of Sales (POS) devices to pay for items at the shops in addition to the e-zwich cards.

He said this would increase the number of cards that could be used for payment while more POSs will be deployed at several outlets to make the electronic payment readily available.

Another long-term approach is to introduce the use of the payment cards to students from the Senior High School through the tertiary to National Service period, to inculcate the habit of using card instead of cash to make payments.

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“Young people are more likely to apply technology and so we are introducing this to them and we anticipate that they would grow with the culture,” Mr. Hesse explained.

The Ghanaian economy is dominated by cash transactions to the extent that people with Visa and MasterCard, will still bypass shops to go to the ATMs to withdraw cash with the cards and return to the shop to buy when they could have paid for the items directly using their Visa or MasterCard.

The CEO of GHIPSS is upbeat that the consistent growth in the use of e-zwich would continue until the critical mass was attained.

He said GHIPSS would continue to work closely with the financial institutions and other stakeholders to ensure further growth in the use of the biometric smart card and the electronic platform in general.**

Source: GNA