GHANA:5 new products for national digital payments platform in 2020

This year will be a busy one with regards to the rollout of new digital payments products onto the national electronic payments architecture installed by the Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlements Systems (GhIPSS), as it plans to introduce five new digital products that will be interoperable by all 23 commercial banks as well as the ARB Apex Bank (on behalf of all the rural and community banks), savings and loans companies, and third party payment service providers, (such as financial technology firms, MasterCard, Visa and mobile money operators), all of which use its nationwide infrastructure.

The impending new products due to be introduced in 2020 were announced last Friday by GhIPSS executive management led by its CEO, Archie Hesse.

Importantly, GhIPSS executives have clarified the industry positioning of the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana, established in 2007 with a mandate to create and manage interoperable payment system infrastructure for banks and non-bank financial institutions in Ghana.

Contrary to the growing conventional wisdom that GhIPSS is preparing to become an active player in Ghana’s electronic payments platforms industry, its executives have explained that rather, it will continue to restrict itself to establishing platforms and managing them for use by financial institutions, who will continue to compete against each other with their respective branded versions of the products and services made possible by using GhIPSS platforms.

The mistaken belief that GhIPSS is seeking to become an industry player itself arose from its decision to introduce an interoperable version of the revolutionary QR Code product first introduced by Ecobank Ghana and subsequently replicated by several other banks. However, GhIPPS has clarified that its decision follows engagements with Ecobank and the other banks now offering proprietary versions of the service which enables merchants to receive payments from various customer funding sources such as bank accounts, debit cards, mobile money wallets and electronic wallets.

GhIPSS impending version, which is its flagship initiative for 2020 is known as Ghana’s Interoperable QR Code solution (GhQR) and will provide a standardized specification for interoperable payments across the country.

By providing a centralized switching service at GhIPSS for QR code payments by all participants it will enable customers of financial institutions, financial technology firms (fintechs) and mobile money operators, to either receive or make payments by simply scanning a quick response code on their smart phones.

Four other interoperable products accessible nationwide by customers of financial payments services providers are also scheduled to commence in 2020.

One is the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Direct Credit Near Real Time, or simply ACH DC NRT. This is a bulk payment option that allows banks to credit customers’ accounts within minutes of receiving the funds. This new addition to the existing ACH DC service will be useful for companies making bulk payments for salaries, loans, dividends and the likes.

Another is Proxy Pay, an overlay service on the GhIPSS Instant Pay service. It will allow a customer of a financial institution, whether individual or corporate, to register an alias or proxy identifier – in the form of a phone number – as part of their account details.

Payments made to the proxy identifier will be credited to the linked bank account in the domiciliary financial institution, although a proxy identifier can be linked to a single account number in only one financial institution.

Then there is the Request To Pay (RTP) service, which is a bills payment service that will enable a service provider to request payment for goods purchased or service consumed by a customer.

The payment request will be accompanied with the bill details with options for the customer to approve payment, accept to pay or decline payment. RTP will leverage on GhIPSS existing Instant Pay service to facilitate instant payments by customers to their service providers.

The other impending new service to be offered by GhIPSS from this year is its Instant Pay Online Payment Gateway, the GIP Online Payment Gateway. This service is a payment acceptance solution for online businesses which allows a customer to pay for goods and services directly from their bank account without the use of a card or physical cash. This solution will leverage the GIP debit transfer option already in use.

“GhIPSS remains committed to partnering the financial services industry to embrace and develop services that will meet customer demands” assures Archie Hesse, CEO. “The company is also ready to embrace new collaborations with fintech start ups.

“Key to our mandate is the extension of financial inclusion to the unbanked population so we will continue to partner all industry players to intensify public education to increase usage of electronic payment services in Ghana.”