Major boost for domestic cards

Mr. Archie Hesse: GhQR and GhIPSS CEO pick laurels at GITTA
Mr. Archie Hesse

…as 17 banks now issue gh-link cards

Efforts to see increased usage of domestic scheme cards are yielding results, as about 17 universal banks now issue the cards to their customers. The Bank of Ghana and three savings and loans companies also issue the cards, according to the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS).

The domestic scheme cards are cards issued by banks locally, and the transactions carried out with them are processed within Ghana – unlike the international scheme cards which are processed in a different country. The general name for Ghana’s domestic scheme card is gh-link card, although some financial institutions may have specific names for their domestic cards.

In most countries, domestic scheme cards are used for transactions within the country while international scheme cards are used when people travel abroad or when they buy online from a company in another country. However, in Ghana it has been the practice that international scheme cards are used for both domestic and international transactions; largely because of the late development of an interoperable domestic scheme card.

The Bank of Ghana and its partners are seeking to reverse that situation by compelling all banks to issue domestic cards alongside any other cards. Ghana now has a robust interoperable domestic scheme card, meaning any domestic card can be used on virtually all automated teller machines in the country and any payment outlet with a displayed gh-link logo.

Domestic scheme cards are made for domestic transactions and therefore do not attract the cost international scheme cards usually attract. Research has shown that transaction costs from domestic schemes average only 45% of the cost in using international cards for in-country payments. This is because all domestic card transactions are carried out and processed in-country, which makes a significant difference to overall bank costs. It also reduces the cost for customers who patronise these cards.

The Chief Executive of GhIPSS, Archie Hesse, commended banks that are issuing gh-link cards to their customers and urged others to follow suit. He said it is appropriate to offer customers the freedom to choose which scheme they want instead of foisting one on them, as used to be the case. Mr. Hesse explained that it is best to use the gh-link cards for all transactions within Ghana, and urged bank customers who do not have a domestic card to ask for one from their banks.

Currently, GCB Bank, Ecobank, Standard Chartered Bank, Cal Bank, Consolidated Bank Ghana, Agriculture Development Bank and Fidelity Bank issue gh-link cards. The others doing so are Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, Bank of Africa, National Investment Bank, Universal Merchant Bank and Zenith Bank, Republic Bank, Prudential Bank, OmniBSIC and ARB Apex Bank. And Savings and Loans companies such as Best Point, Opportunity International and SIS&L also issue the domestic scheme cards.

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