Set Up Payments Council For Cash Lite System — Report Recommends

Kweku Bedu-AddoThe Bank of Ghana must set up a Payments Council to successfully steer the country away from its heavy use of cash for transactions and embrace a cash lite system, where mobile money, use of cards and points of sales terminals, will become the dominant forms of payment, a report has recommended.

The Payments Council, according to the report, should be responsible for issues such as standards, pricing, determining priorities and coming out with the rules that would guide the various payment schemes.

The report on Strategic Payments Roadmap for Ghana, produced by Standard Chartered Bank was developed based on views of people who participated in a stakeholders engagement last year, was recently presented to the Bank of Ghana.

It touches on what is needed to be done in order to quickly move Ghana into cash lite system in line with global trends and to reduce the huge unbanked population as well as the challenges that come with it.

The report also suggested that the Council should be chaired by the Central Bank Governor and other members include the Chief executives of banks, payments arms of Telecos, GhIPSS, and other relevant financial institutions.

“The Council will have committees that will be assigned specific roles relating to the core functions of the Council,” the report said.

The formation of the Council, the report said, was also to ensure that the various players and stakeholders were involved in decision making in order to have a buy-in by all of them and reduce the narrow interest that individual organisations might be pursuing.

“Ghana is running behind even other African countries which are moving fast into cash-lite economy by ensuring very high patronage of various electronic payments such as mobile money, use of point of sales terminals, instant payment and automated clearing house,” it said.

It said while the use of cash to make payments was significantly reducing in these other African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana appears stuck to its past and missing out on the enormous benefits of such electronic payment systems.

“The Ghanaian case is even more disturbing because the country has all the infrastructure and products to be a market leader, but the absence of a national ownership and policy has resulted in low patronage of these services,” the report said.

The Telecos have introduced mobile money, Ghana Interbank Payment Systems (GhIPSS) has also introduced various payments systems while private technology firms have in conjunction with banks introduced various prepaid and debit cards.

However, the report suggested that an apex body to be called Ghana Payments Council would be useful in directing and coordinating the activities of these various players.

Market watchers are worried that while payments systems in other countries are national in character and enjoys government direction, very little can be said of Ghana’s story.

But this report could be the turning point if the Central Bank and other key stakeholders give it the needed attention. By David Adadevoh

 

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