Ghana needs a Payments Council


SEPT 01,2014.

The Bank of Ghana needs to set up a Payments Council to successfully steer the country away from the heavy use of cash for transactions towards embracing a cash-lite system.

According to the Strategic Payments Roadmap Report for Ghana, which was developed on the views participants in a stakeholders’ engagement, the country is lagging behind other African countries, which are moving fast into cash-lite economies.

These countries are ensuring very high patronage of various electronic payments such as mobile money, use of point of sales terminals, instant payment and automated clearing house.

The report, launched at the Central Bank, touches on what must be done to quickly move Ghana into cash lite system in line with global trends and also to reduce the huge unbanked population.

The Standard Chartered Bank-produced report recommends that a cash-lite society, where mobile money, the use of cards and points of sales terminals, should become the dominant forms of payment.

While the use of cash to make payments is significantly reducing in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda, Ghana appears stuck to its past and is missing out on the enormous benefits of such electronic payment systems, it says.

“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 says.

It, therefore, recommends an apex body that would direct the various efforts by different organisations to introduce non-cash forms of payments.

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 also have introduced various prepaid and debits cards.

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

It would also ensure a proper governance structure for the country’s payment system.

The Payments Council, according to the Report, should be responsible for issues such as standards, pricing, determination of priorities and the enactment of rules that would guide the various payment schemes.

It says the apex body should be chaired by the Central Bank Governor and members should include the Chief Executives of banks, payments arms of Telecos, GhIPSS, and other relevant Financial Institutions.

The Council should have committees that would be assigned specific roles relating to the core functions of the Council, it says.

The formation of the Council is also to ensure that the various players and stakeholders are involved in decision making processes in order to have a buy-in by all of them to reduce the narrow interests that individual organisations might be pursuing. GNA