The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited, GhIPSS, has waived off fees on electronic payments services charged by financial service providers.
The initiative, which is in partnership with all banks, Fintect and mobile money operators, is in furtherance of measures put out by the Bank of Ghana as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on businesses and the economy as a whole.
The BoG, last week, announced some measures to contain the impact of the COVID-19 on the Ghanaian economy.
For instance, the Primary Reserve Requirement was reduced from 10 per cent to 8 per cent to provide more liquidity to banks to support critical sectors of the economy.
This effectively extends the previous targeted reserves for SMEs under the enterprise credit scheme to all critical sectors.
Again, the Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB) for banks of 3.0 per cent has been reduced to 1.5 per cent.
This is to enable banks to provide the needed financial support to the economy. This effectively reduces the Capital Adequacy Requirement from 13 per cent to 11.5 per cent.
Furthermore, Provisioning for Loans in the “Other Loans Especially Mentioned” (OLEM) category is also reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent for all banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) as a policy response to loans that may experience difficulty in repayments due to slowdown in economic activity.
However, provisioning norms for loans in all other categories are maintained. This should provide capital relief to banks and SDIs in these uncertain times.
Loan repayments that are past due for Microfinance Institutions for up to 30 days shall be considered as “Current” as in the case for all other SDIs.
Review of charge on digital transactions
In addition to the above, the Bank of Ghana agreed with banks and mobile network operators on measures to facilitate more efficient payments and promote digital forms of payments for the next three months effective March 20, 2020.
However, these measures are subject to review by the BoG and the mobile network operators should the pandemic be brought to control.
As a result of this, all mobile money users can send up to GH₵100 for free (excluding cash out). This includes sending to a recipient on the same network, or another network via the interoperability platform.
All mobile phone subscribers are now permitted to use their already existing mobile phone registration details to be on-boarded for Minimum KYC Account.
GhIPSS operationalises BoG measures
In line with the BoG directive, effective Monday, March 23, 2020, GhIPSS is directing, through a press release issued on Sunday, March 22, 2020, that all cross-wallet transactions on the mobile money interoperability platform should not attract any fee.
It again directed that all banks and Fintects offering instant pay service to their respective clients not pay any service charge to GhIPPS.
Furthermore, it directed that all banks leveraging on the ACH Direct Credit platforms for bulk payments such as salaries, on behalf of their corporate institutions should also not incur any service charge from GhIPSS.
“GhIPSS is optimistic the fee waiver will contribute to efforts by its partners to promote and encourage the use of digital payment options to limit the possible spread of the covid-19 disease through physical cash”, it said in the statement.
It also adds that “the company is therefore urging all partner banks, Fintect and mobile money service providers to make these services available to customers on their various digital and mobile payment platforms (mobile app, internet banking, USSD etc)”.
Meanwhile,GhIPSS, in the same press release, says it will be launching the GhQR and Proxy Pay service on March 25, 2020 to provide additional channels for the public to transact their business electronically.
“The company takes this opportunity to reiterate the call on the public to observe personal hygiene and social distancing in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus”, the statement ended.
However, it is worthy to note that the waiver, which is regardless of the volume of transactions at the moment, is subject to review.