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Opinion | Jan 11, 2019

Cashless 2019: A "Smart" New Year Resolution

By Eunice Asantewaa Ankomah-Tindi
Cashless 2019: A

When we welcome a New Year, most people resolve to try new things; take advantage of new opportunities to achieve goals they couldn't accomplish in the previous year. Whichever way it is looked at, the objective of making New Year resolutions is, in most instances, to improve one's life by setting goals that are achievable.

Many countries have built strategies around a vision of a cashless economy that promotes Financial inclusion; by making digital payments accessible through investment in electronic payment technologies. Ghana has made great progress in that regard BUT cash still proves to be resilient.

This year, I want to propose a "smart" resolution that can be added to your 2019 Resolutions: Performing Financial Transactions Electronically.

This resolution, like the many others that can be set, is possible and achievable, especially at a time when Ghana's payment platforms are fully interoperable. 2019 is certainly a good year to make some cashless transaction resolutions; a year to resolve “Cash will not be King” no matter how stubborn it proves to be.

So, what options are available to make your cashless resolution a reality?

  1. Use Mobile Money Interoperability: Thanks to this platform, you can send money from your wallet to any wallet across networks, directly from your mobile phone; using your existing mobile money short code. You can also move money from your wallet to your bank account or any bank account in Ghana. You can again send money from your wallet to any e-zwich card and vice versa. These options mean you can pay anyone or receive money from anyone irrespective of the financial service they use. You can pay for services directly from your wallet. You only need the account number, mobile number or e-zwich number of the person you are remitting or paying. Make convenience your thing this year.
  2. Utilize Instant Pay: Real-time payments services are the trend globally. Ghana, like other countries, has an instant Interbank payment service. It allows customers of financial institutions to move money in real time; across banks. This service will allow you to remit or make business payments directly from your account without moving to the recipient’s bank. It is offered by all banks in Ghana. Cut down transportation cost and all the inconveniences associated with cash by requesting the Instant Interbank Payment Service from your bank. Businesses can make on-demand payments with this service. Individuals can pay for “cash and carry” services without fear of missing payment deadlines. Schools can work with their bankers to receive payments via this service. You have the power to control how much cash you choose to carry. Life is instant; so should payments.
  3. Direct Debit: This is an instruction you give your bankers to release funds for recurring payments like insurance premiums, DSTV subscriptions, mortgage payments, utility bills, investment commitments etc. In order not to forget these payments, you sign a mandate with your service provider. On the day of payment, your service provider will submit your instruction to your bank electronically. You just have to make sure there are enough funds in your account. I use this service for my life insurance premiums and my monthly investment contributions. You can also enjoy it irrespective of your bank or service provider. All banks in Ghana can provide this service. Collection companies and service providers can work with their banks to allow their customers to make payment to them via Direct Debit. It is secure, convenient for both service providers and their customers. Payment is also assured.
  4. Direct Credit: This is also an interbank electronic transfer service which allows companies and individuals to transfer funds electronically to different accounts across banks. Unlike Instant Pay, Direct Credit is a same day or next day service ideal for bulk payments or batched payments. Businesses, for instance, can utilize this service for the payment of salaries, allowances, dividends etc. to their customers, employees and other business partners. This service saves businesses from writing numerous cheques; as payment details are captured in Excel file and shared electronically with a paying bank. Same day means recipients will receive monies due them within 24 hours. Next day is within 48hours. Companies that hope to utilize this service can also contact their bankers as all banks in Ghana are on the Ghana Automated Clearing House Platform.
  5. Mobile Bank Applications: Our mobile phones have come to mean more than voice devices. They also make banking mobile. With your bank's mobile application, you can perform banking transactions without moving an inch. For most banks, you can send money across banks on their app, you send money to any mobile wallets, you buy call credit, you apply for loans, you can pay utility bills, you can check your balance and a host of other things. Our banks are changing with the times. If your bank’s app allows you to only perform intra-bank transactions, you should find out how you can perform electronic interbank transactions at your convenience. This way, you carry your bank with you everywhere you go.
  6. Internet banking: There are also internet banking portals that can be used for electronic transactions. Sign up for your bank's internet banking service and enjoy the convenience of performing transactions without cash. Pay family, friends, service providers from your phone, tablet, PC or any device that facilitates access to your bank account using the Internet banking portal. Move or receive money from the comfort of your home or office.
  7. Third-party Payment Application: There are also third-party payment application providers (Fintech Startup applications) licensed by the Central Bank. They are third-party payment providers because they are not your traditional bank but they have leveraged on existing platforms to create value-added services for you. You can download these apps and utilize their services instead of cash. There is ExpressPay, Slydepay. Hubtel, Alex Pay and many others. You can use them for making payments to registered merchants on their app, buy call credit, make bank transfers, cross wallet transactions among others.
  8. Avoid the Use of ATMs: For most people, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are not only their primary route to cash but often also physical interface with their banks. While a lot of us receive money directly into our bank accounts (electronically). We are quick to get them out from any available ATM. Instead of using the ATM, you can make payments with either your gh-link, VISA or MasterCard on a Point of sale device. You can also pay for services online with your card instead of cash on delivery. Balance enquiries and movement of funds to mobile wallets or e-zwich cards can all be done on your phone. Everything except accessing actual physical cash will be a good replacement for cash.

Resolutions are meant to challenge us to try new options. Give these cashless options a try. Whether you are a business or an individual, you can make cashless transactions your preferred option this year. Don’t let the delay in payments and payment deadlines interrupt your schedule.

I wish you a cash-free 2019!

The Author is a CIPR Accredited Public Relations Practitioner who works in the Payment Systems Industry as a Corporate Communications Officer. She is also a “Pro-Bono” Consulting partner at SBC Consult, a Brand Communications Firm that help brands develop spot on Public Relations Strategies that Impacts Bottom-line. Kindly send your comments to [email protected] . Follow her on LinkedIn: Eunice Asantewaa Ankomah; Instagram: @asantewaa23; Twitter: @AsantewaaTindi

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