Thu, 28 May 2009 Business & Finance

E-zwich ATM takes-off

Dominic Donkor m and others launching the E-zwich ATMDominic Donkor (m) and others launching the E-zwich ATM

The E-zwich compliant Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was yesterday launched in Accra with a call on all banks and savings and loans companies to take advantage of the ATMs since it has a great future over cash and paper-based payment instruments notwithstanding the challenges.

Dominic Donkor, Director of Financial Sector Division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, at the launch of the equipment, said electronic payments maintain an audit trail and complete transparency which goes a long way to minimize corruption and also eliminate black market transactions.

According to him, the need to improve the efficiency, reliability and timeliness of payment systems cannot be overemphasized, thus one way to achieve this is to reduce the use of cash for transactions and to migrate as soon as possible to electronic or automated payments.

He noted that government is looking forward to the day when revenues will be collected electronically and payments transferred automatically to the account of the beneficiary.

Similarly, government looks forward to the day when its employees will be paid through E-zwich as a means of minimizing the existence of ghost workers in government department payrolls.

Explaining further, he added that government has followed with keen interest the steady progress Ezwich is making with respect to the issuance of cards to banked customers and the unbanked.

“Government also notes with satisfaction the increasing number of Point of Sale (POS) devices across the country and the opportunity for everyone to access electronic payment in their neighborhood,” he added.

Presently, about 200,000 E-zwich cards have so far been issued out since the project took-off in May 2008.

On his part, Dela Selormey, Head of Banking Supervision at the Bank of Ghana said the E-zwich card would serve as a tool for mobilizing more savings for investments.

He therefore charged banks to actively get involved to increase their deposit base.

Fred France, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GhIPPS), operators of the E-zwich, said the objective of the national switch and smartcard payment system is to link the various payment terminal of all deposit taking financial institutions such that they become accessible to customers of any bank or savings and loans company.

“The POS has proven this interoperability as E-zwich cardholders can access banking and payment services at any POS owned by any bank or merchant.”

The E-zwich compliant Automated Teller Machines (ATM) would allow users to use ATMs of any bank.

This means, customers of Stanbic Bank Ghana can withdraw cash from E-zwich ATMs compliant belonging to Stanchart, Barclays, Ghana Commercial Bank, Zenith Bank or any of the banks using Ezwich cards.

Similarly, clients of the National Investment Bank or United Bank for Africa or Unibank can also withdraw monies from any other bank's ATM across the country.

The operations of the Ezwich ATMs are expected to ease sufferings of customers who travel long distances to withdraw monies at the banks.

By Charles Nixon Yeboah & Kathrin Pavic