The Chief Executive Officer of IT Consortium, Romeo Bugyei, has highlighted the critical role the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has played in Ghana’s fintech space since its inception in May 2007.
Speaking on the Citi Business Festival virtual forum on Citi TV, Mr. Bugyei pointed out that the centralized infrastructure provided by GhIPSS has made services offered by firms like IT Consortium much more “easier than in most countries, especially in Africa.
“Centralized infrastructure is very important, and interoperability is key to whatever we want to do and achieve. Although there are challenges doing business in Ghana, what people don’t realize is that doing technology business in terms of Fintechs, I think it’s becoming much easier in this country than in most countries especially in Africa.”
“That central system has taken care of all the things I need to do to be able to serve my customers and with one integration, I am able to hit all the telcos, I am able to hit all the banks, and I am able to push money wherever I want to. When you have a central system that you can pluck into, it makes work so easy and that allows us to think because we are in the business of thinking about new solutions and helping people to use them in the right manner,” Mr. Bugyei said.
GhIPSS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana which was incorporated in May 2007 with a mandate to implement and manage interoperable payment system infrastructure for banks and non-bank financial institutions in Ghana.
In line with its mandate, GhIPSS has implemented and currently manages the National Switch & Biometric Smart Card Payment System (e-zwich), the Cheque Codeline Clearing (CCC) System, the Ghana Automated Clearing House (GACH) systems- Direct Credit & Direct Debit and the National Switching and Processing System (gh-link).
Ghana making progress in building a cashless society
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), Archie Hesse, also pointed out that Ghana is in a position to be recognized as one of the countries at the forefront of being a cashless society.
“If I look at the journey 14 years on, as we speak, we have enough products and services than any other country I know that exists in the world,” Mr. Hesse said during the Citi Business Festival virtual forum on Citi TV.
He said that GhIPSS only needed to make people more aware of the services and also get the government and the fintechs to embrace and use the platforms fully.
“I believe that when it comes to the infrastructure, we have it. What is needed is for us to create more awareness, look at different use cases, and have entities like our fintech [companies] and government embracing the system and using it.”
“I was reading about the race to become cashless, and there was an article that said Canada is leading, followed by Australia, and then Sweden. And their benchmark was debit cards and credit cards. Now we have them, and we have Mobile Money and so many others,” he also noted.
Tackling cyber fraud
The Chief Enablement and Information Officer for ABSA Bank, Ebo Richardson, called on players in the digital space to devise measures that will tackle cyber threats and fraud.
He believes digitization will yield positive results if there are tighter mechanisms to deal with the pitfalls in the digital space.
“I think it is important because if we allow some of these pitfalls to get ahead and control the space then the experience will be marred, and we will start to retrogress instead of going forward as we have all talked about. I think it is important that all the players look at what it takes to not only minimize fraud but also to deal with the cancer of cyber threats that often rear their ugly heads. It is just the reality of life, once you start to move in the technology direction, you also become exposed to the threats that come with them.”
He acknowledged that whiles GHiPPS has put in place the necessary infrastructure, regulation of the space, which was non-existent, has now improved tremendously. He also stressed the need for education about the fintech or payment system space for people to allay their fears and get on board fully.
Benefits of a cashless system
The Chief Executive Officer for Wear Ghana, Awura Abena Agyeman, highlighted the vital role the cashless system hass played in serving and expanding the market, as well as reducing the incidents of theft.
“The cashless solutions that are currently available have made it possible for us to expand the markets that we serve. Whereas in the past, you would have to meet someone in person, for example, in the past, the story would be my sister is coming at such a time, and when they get here, they will come and buy; but that is not the story now at all because you can shop online through social media and then make the payments. So that has been good in terms of helping us to expand our reach.”
Importance of digitalization in formalizing the economy
The Executive Secretary to the Vice President, Augustine Blay, also reiterated the government’s plans of using digitalization as a means of promoting financial inclusion and formalizing the economy.
“Digitization provides the formalization and inclusion that allows economic actors to have access to money to grow their business. This is where the Vice President is going – to formalize and include more people for people to have access to money to grow the economy.”
The first virtual forum of the 2021 Citi Business Festival was on the theme ‘Building a cashless society: Opportunities for business and job creation.