Sibton defends GHc 4.6 bn mobile money contract with BoG
Sibton Switch Systems, the company given the contract to enhance interoperability in mobile money transactions across telecom networks by the Bank of Ghana, has justified the GHc 4.6 billion cost of the project.
It has been discovered that the company’s GHc 4.6 billion price tag was the most expensive among the companies that bid for the project.
According to the tender documents seen by citifmonline.com, whilst the Sibton Switch Systems’ bid for amounted to GHc 4.6 billion, two bids in the contract amounted to GHc 14 million and GHc 5.4 million from Vals Intel Limited and Mericom Solutions Limited respectively.
Analysts have explained that mobile money transfers will become expensive since the high cost of the project will be passed on to users.
Mobile money poses no threat to the banking sector-Beige boss
According to Sibton Switch Systems, the BoG, which regulates the mobile money operations of the telcos, will however not be funding any part of the tender it is planning to build, operate and own the system.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, a Manager at Sibton Switch Systems, Keikos Watanabe, explained that the core function of Sibton Switch Systems will be to enhance and facilitate interoperability. This will be done in phases; beginning with the integration with Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) followed by integration of bank merchants and eventually to cover the entire retail ecosystem.
“The platform we are putting in place is quite comprehensive and it is capital intensive. If we are to factor the retail payments across the board, not just locally, we are also connecting with international payment systems – there is so much investment that has to go into our platform.”
“As a retail payment system, what Sibton Switch Systems is looking to provide will not cover just the interoperability for MMOs. But it will cut across the entire retail payments system, and this comes with MMOs, comes with banks, comes with merchants and beyond,” Ms Watanabe said.
“If we believe that this amount is what is going to get us the infrastructure we want and achieve what we have been assigned to do, we are investing this amount into it… the investments we are putting in will be realized, but gradually. That is why it is over a very long period of time.”
“As part of the tasks, we have to perform, we have to invest in the infrastructure and that is made up of the physical infrastructure, the hardware and the software… we are doing the investment. Nobody is paying us to do it. It is part of the process.”
Although Sibton Switch Systems is looking at reduced charges for customers, Ms. Watanabe could not outline the charges per transaction.
Reports indicate that, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), is well placed to handle an intermediary role in across-network mobile money transactions.
Meanwhile, telecom operators in the country are also unhappy about moves by the central bank to impose on them a third-party company which will act as the intermediary in mobile money transactions across different networks.
Before telcos could fully roll-out a form of interoperability, the Bank of Ghana, which regulates the mobile money operations of the telcos, announced that it had secured the services of a private switch that will handle the interoperability.