By Maxwell Ofori
The Vice President, Dr Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia has announced that very soon E-zwich would be connected to the Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI) system, to provide an effective and sustainable process of financial inclusion in the country.
According to the Vice President, the connection of the E-zwich onto the MMI would ensure the full complement of the entire payment system, adding that very soon, the government would not accept physical cash.
The announcement of the E-zwich-MMI connection follows the launch of the MMI last week, which has brought together the telecommunication companies and financial institutions onto one system for financial transactions.
“…In the next couple of months, we will be bringing the E-zwich system to be part of it, and we will then complete the triangle between the E-zwich, the banks and the telcos, that is phenomenal…,” he noted.
The launch of the MMI last week ignited controversies when the Vice President, at the launch, indicated that the Akufo-Addo-led government had done that for just GH¢4.5 million, as against the US$4.6 billion the erstwhile Mahama-led government would have spent on the project.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) took a strong exception to the statement by the Head of the Economic Management team of the government, Dr Bawumia, describing it as untrue.
However, Dr Bawumia has taken time again to explain the issue, indicating the companies which bid, at what price, and which won.
The initial cost of the project, as awarded by the NDC to SIBTON, was $1.1billion. The NPP reviewed it and got a company to do it at $4.5 million, saving the country over a million dollars.
Narrating the issue yesterday, Dr Bawumia said: “Thankfully, we did it within budget. You’ve heard a lot of discussion this week about the cost of [the] payment system, especially this interoperability switch.
“When I first became aware, it was a situation where three companies apparently bid for the right to provide [the] payment system into interoperability. One company bid GH¢14 million to provide that, another company, for the same scope of work, bid GH¢5 million, and yet, a third company for the same scope of work bid GH¢4.6 billion, and guess who won, GH¢4.6 billion won that bid.
“And we have been able to do it for US$4.5 million instead of the $1 billion, and we have become the leading country in interoperability, so what other scope were you thinking about, what more do you want to do if you become the leading country in interoperability?” he asked rhetorically.
The system, being managed by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlements System (GhiPSS), makes Ghana the first country to run this system in Africa, Dr Bawumia observed.
“We are doing something that is unique. We are allowing interoperability between the mobile companies. That is the standard type of interoperability that you will see, for example, in Kenya and Tanzania. But we went one step ahead of that.
“We brought in the banks so that you have the telcos and the banks. So, you can send money from your mobile to you bank account, and from your bank account to your mobile. That is that is something missing in other countries in Africa, and Ghana is the first country to get there.”
The Vice President was speaking at the launch of PaySwitch, a new system established to provide safe, convenience, and the fastest means of payments.
Speaking on the theme, ‘A new day; a new way,’ the Vice President said the system is relevant, adding that, “indeed, Ghana has a new day, and a new way.”
He commended the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kojo Choi, a Chinese, who ha naturalised in Ghana, for such a tremendous initiative, coming at a time when the government wants to go cashless.
On his part, Mr Kojo Choi, said PaySwitch Company Limited is a Ghanaian company providing integrated electronic payment solutions since 2015.
He said the company started as an online payment aggregator with its first solution called ‘theTeller’.
In January 2016, the company refocused to expand its scope by positioning itself within the payment processing space. Today, the company has invested substantially to acquire a switch and built the state of the art data-center to host cards and provide other services.
“Currently, the business is focused on serving the savings & loans, rural banks, some commercial banks, telecom companies, and a range of corporate organisations with varied services…,” he stated.