Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ghana’s Cashless Society and E-zwich

A Cashless society is a society in which all bills and debits are paid by electronic money media, for example, bank and credit cards, direct debits, smart cards and online payments.

Ever since the first general-purpose charge card debuted in the early 1950s, pundits have been predicting the "cashless society". Over fifty years later, we may finally be getting close to that vision. Paying for goods with notes and coins could be consigned to history within five years, according to the business development officer at Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) Limited.

A cashless society in Ghana is gradually being introduced. Amongst products on the market include MTN Mobile Money Transfer,Text & Pay, Cashless mobile phone top-up service, credit cards and newest of all, the E-zwich smart card. The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) Limited, issuers of the E-zwich smart card have announced, they are looking at increasing its E-zwich subscriber base to one million by the end of 2009.

Most of the banks partner with telecommunication service providers to offer mobile phone money transfer services to their customers; eTranzact is a leading name when it comes to assorted money transfer products; Cal Bank's ATM mobile phone TOP-UP service is premiering on the market; Ecobank’s and Zenith Bank’s credit cards are the ones on the Ghanaian market for now…

The E-zwich smart card which was introduced in April 2008 and has been operational till now seeks to reduce the risk at which card theft was on the increase a while ago. Most post offices are currently hooked onto the national platform whiles payment of school fees in second and third cycle institutions can now be done using the E-zwich card.

Cardholders only require authenticating a transaction with their fingerprint. This eliminates the problem of identifying theft associated with card transactions authenticated through the use of PINs. A person does not need to be a customer of a bank or have an account with a bank to have the E-zwich smart card.

I was able to get my E-zwich card from the Stanbic Bank branch in Ho when I was there for a project in the mid-July of 2009. Even though I haven’t been using it, I’m glad I acquired one. I have a couple of questions though…!!!

What happened to the “Sika-Card” introduced by SG-SSB Bank? Is the E-zwich here to stay for good? Can we bank our hopes on this new technology from the GhIPSS? What happens when the telecommunication service provider fails to provide service to these financial institutions?

If you have answers and comments to this post, please feel free and express your mind here….

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