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Significant growth in e-zwich usage
Posted on: 15-Aug-2012         Source: thebftonline.com
The half-year figures on usage of e-zwich have shown a consistent increase in patronage of the biometric smartcard, with close to 500 percent growth in some of the services over the first six months of this year.

The data from the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) across various e-wich transactions indicate that while patronage increased for most services by over 50 percent on average between January and March this year, the usage shot up by huge margins between March and June.

According to the figures, the value of sales transactions involving e-zwich went up from overGH˘400,000 in January to over GH˘800,000 in March, and rose significantly to GH˘4.5million by June.

The increase in value of transactions over the six months also corresponds to the volume, which has also moved up -- from over seven hundred in January to more than one thousand five hundred in March and further up to over seven thousand and two hundred transactions by June.

Similar trends were recorded for cash deposits and withdrawals on e-zwich as well as card to card transfers over the six months period.

Another major use of the e-zwich -- for the payment of salaries and other forms of emolument known as the Payment Distribution System (PDS) -- equally moved from GH˘1.1 million in January to almost GH˘2.3 million and experienced a jump to almost GH˘14 million by June.

Commenting on the patronage for e-zwich, the Chief Executive Archie Hesse noted that the use of e-zwich has consistently experienced a steady growth. He said the number of companies using the electronic payment systems for bulk payments is increasing while individuals are doing a lot of internal funds transfers with e-zwich.

Mr. Hesse said the culture of using cards for payment of goods and services remains a challenge to be surmounted. He added, however, that shortly all the traditional Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards will be able to be used in Point of Sales (POS) devices to pay for items at the shops in addition to the e-zwich cards.

This will increase the number of cards that can be used for payment while more POSs will be deployed at various outlets to make the electronic payment readily available.

Another approach that is long-term is introducing the use of payment cards to students from Senior High School through tertiary to the National Service period, thus inculcating the habit of using a card instead of cash to make payment. “Young people are more likely to apply technology and so are introducing this to them, and we anticipate that they will grow with the culture,” Mr. Hesse explained.

The Ghanaian economy is dominated by cash transactions, to the extent that people with Visa and MasterCard will still bypass shops to go to ATMs and withdraw money with the cards and return to the shop to buy -- when they could have paid for the items directly using their Visa or MasterCard.

But as the globe moves deeper into electronic commerce and business, it is anticipated that Ghana will conform soon. Additionally, when the traditional ATM cards become usable with POS devices, in addition to an e-commerce window on the National Switch, businesses will be expected to introduce products and services that will entice customers to begin using electronic payment modes and reduce the use of cash.

The CEO of GhIPSS is however upbeat that the consistent growth in use of the e-zwich will continue till the critical mass is attained. He said the banks have been very supportive, adding that GhIPSS will continue to work closely with financial institutions and other stakeholders to ensure further growth in usage of the biometric smartcard and the electronic platform in general.