Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has urged banks to issue more proprietary ‘local’ ATM cards to their customers.
Historically most banks in Ghana would issue international cards, which had wider footprints than local options, but the introduction of the new national switch, gh-link, is set to change that.
Gh-link is a new service which allows holders of local cards to use just about any ATM in the country as well as specially developed hybrid Point of Sale terminals.
Speaking in an interview, the Chief Executive of GhIPSS Mr Archie Hesse said it made more economic sense for banks to issue more of the local cards because the transaction costs are lower for both the bank and their customers. Local ATM cards will also have access to a wider network with 27 participating banks and 5 savings and loans companies, with plans to add more rural and community banks. There will also be 20 000 hybrid POS terminals deployed throughout the country.
Mr Hesse continued that for Ghanaians who are not planning to travel outside the country, there is no need for them to have an international card, which is more expensive and has fewer points of presence. He suggests that banks should rather issue local cards as default and offer international cards on request.
Gh-link cards allow customers to draw money from ATMs and make payments through POS terminals. They will also soon be able to make payments on the internet, an infrastructure which is already in place and will go live in the second quarter of the year.
Ghana is also working closely with Nigeria in order to integrate their payment systems. Soon local cards in Ghana will work with ATMs, points of sale, online shops and mobile money networks in Nigeria, and vice versa. Eventually this will extend to cover all the Francophone West African countries through UEMOA.