The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GhIPSS) on Wednesday launched the ‘gh-link’, an interbank switching and processing system that would enable Ghanaian banks to share each other’s Automated Teller Machines (ATM).
The gh-link will interconnect the switches of financial institutions and systems of third party institutions to enable them utilize a common platform for interbank transactions in an effective and efficient manner.
Mr Archie Hesse, Chief Executive Officer of GhIPSS, said the 'gh-link' can be used to provide varied electronic services, however, as a first step the interbank ATM Transaction Switching was being launched to allow local card holders to withdraw cash from any ATM outlet.
So far, 13 banks have reconfigured their systems and can now accept each other’s ATM cards and this means customers of these banks can gain access their bank accounts and make withdrawals from the ATMs of any of these nine banks.
The banks, which include major financial institutions, are Ghana Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Agriculture Development Bank and Zenith Bank. Others are HFC Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Ut Bank, Prudential Bank, and the Bank of Africa. The rest are Unibank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Stanbic Bank and Ecobank. Access Bank is expected to be on board by the time the service is launched.
“We strongly anticipate that all banks will be on board by next year,” Mr Hesse said adding that efforts were also being made to sign on Visa and MasterCards so that the service would be completely universal in the country.
He urged the general public to patronize the various services available saying local cards could in future be used to shop whiles plans were underway to interconnect with other switches in the sub-region.
Mr Hesse asked the banks to be innovative and take advantage of the opportunities to make banking more appealing to the public.
Mr Millison Narh, Deputy Governor Bank of Ghana, said the launch of the 'gh-link' marked another milestone in the development of the payments and settlement systems that would help meet the long-term objective of financial inclusion and make the country a cashless society.
He said the e-zwich platform provided opportunities for effective mobilization and intermediation of financial resources and also extended the financial services to daily transactions.
GhIPSS has since 2008 led the reform of the country’s payment systems, acquired the National Electronic Platform to enable all banks to interconnect and ensure that Ghana moves away from the era when customers had to travel long distances to access their money from an ATM.