COVID-19: Electronic payment is one new normal – GhIPSS Boss

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The public will have to accept electronic payment channels as their default form of payment to stay safe, as scientists predict that the coronavirus will linger on for a while. This is because quite a number of electronic payment channels do not require physical contacts for payments to be effected.

Ghana has been rolling out a number of measures to help in the fight against spread of the pandemic, including a partial lockdown at a point and current restrictions on social gathering among others.  However recent global conversations point to a gradual easing of restrictions so as to allow life return to what is being described as the new normal.

Speaking in an interview, the Chief Executive of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), Mr. Archie Hesse, said electronic payment is one ‘new normal’ that must be adopted in order to live with the virus.  He explained that there are several electronic payment options that do not require physical contact, and urged the public to consider them as their default mode of payment even if COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

Cash transactions have been described as a possible conduit for spread of COVID-19 if the use of cash remains high. In advanced countries where e-commerce and electronic payment channels are common, concerns about cash spreading the virus are hardly talked about – but Ghana is confronted with this challenge.

The Bank of Ghana, GhIPSS and financial institutions have been campaigning for the use of electronic payment options. But there are fears that people’s compliance with this advice could wane if restrictions are relaxed. But the GhIPSS boss said a sustained campaign by all stakeholders could be helpful. He therefore urged financial institutions to continue encouraging their customers to use their electronic payment solutions.

The GhIPSS CEO noted that traders and businesses in general play a crucial role in getting the public to use more of the electronic payment channels. He explained that once merchants – including micro-scale operators such as table-top or corner shops – agree to accept mobile money and transfers from bank accounts, many people will accept the need to use more of these channels instead of cash.

Mr. Hesse therefore encouraged shop owners to accept, at least, the basic electronic payment channels such as mobile money. “Big shops and businesses can accept a whole range of electronic channels such as GIP, ACH and other electronic transfers, while the medium can do the QR codes and even the bank transfers; but there should be no excuse for people not to accept at least mobile money,” he stressed.

“These electronic channels actually bring in more income to shop owners and businesses, because your customers have a wider option to pay you, including money that they do not readily have on them,” Mr. Hesse added.

Mr. Hesse urged the public to continue observing the safety protocols, and to patronise businesses which give them electronic payment options.

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