Bawumia launches Mobile Money Interoperability service

BY: Victor Kwawukume & Sebastian Syme
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (4th left)  unveiling a plaque to launch the Mobile Money Interoperability. Assisting him are Dr Ernest Addison (3rd left),  Mr Ken Ashigbey (2nd left), and  Mrs Elly Ohene Adu (left), Board Member of GhIPSS
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (4th left) unveiling a plaque to launch the Mobile Money Interoperability. Assisting him are Dr Ernest Addison (3rd left), Mr Ken Ashigbey (2nd left), and Mrs Elly Ohene Adu (left), Board Member of GhIPSS

Ghana has joined Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa to unveil a Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI) service that allows direct and seamless transfer of funds from one mobile money wallet to another mobile money wallet across networks.

The service, which takes effect today, will also enable mobile money users to transfer funds directly from their wallets to any bank account, debit or pull funds from their accounts and credit their wallets and also have users transfer funds from their wallet to any e-zwich card.

Prepare yourselves

Launching the service in Accra on Thursday, the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, entreated public sector institutions to prepare themselves to accept electronic payments using mobile money to give true meaning to the ongoing e-governance projects of the government.

He pointed out that the usage of mobile money ought to go beyond just the business of cash-in and cash-out to a mechanism for making bulk payments and other forms of traditional payments.

The Vice-President asked public sector institutions to take advantage of the ongoing e-governance projects to accept electronic payments to strengthen the various efforts to introducing different electronic payment channels.

The event brought together captains of industry in telecommunications, bankers and other stakeholders in the telecoms industry.

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Be innovative

Dr Bawumia further urged financial institutions, the telecommunication companies and financial technologists to find innovative ways of turning mobile phones and the mobile money platform into vehicles of economic emancipation.

“I anticipate that with this milestone achieved, coupled with other electronic payment channels such as the Instant Pay and the e-bills pay, online banking and the several other channels, we should be moving faster to a cash-lite economy,” he added.

He indicated that the mobile platform could be taken to the next level by venturing into the cross-border arena for an effective and efficient payment system to support sub-regional and intra-African trade.

The Vice-President announced that Ghana had concluded discussions with Paypal for the country to become one of the Paypal compliant countries.

When the discussions are successfully concluded, Ghanaian merchants will be able to receive payments for their goods sold online by the second quarter of 2019 and Ghanaian consumers can also make payments for goods and services purchased online via Paypal accounts by 2020.

Sound financial sector

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Ernest Addison, said the launch of the MMI was a further attestation to the broad objective of the central bank to promote an all-inclusive safe and sound financial sector.

Currently, Dr Addison indicated that the country was witnessing a shift to a new kind of retail banking system where a large segment of the population, previously unbanked, were being absorbed into the financial service via mobile money.

He stated that the development of the financial sector in the country was on course and the payment systems was fundamental to that process.

Chief Executives

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS), a subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana that is championing the MMI, Mr Archie Hesse, said Tanzania implemented the MMI last year while Kenya did same about three weeks ago.

He underscored the need for collaboration in the mobile money market to ensure efficiency in transferring funds electronically.

Mr Hesse said plans were afoot to add an e-zwich platform to the list of networks to improve on the financial inclusion triangle which involved the process of transferring funds across the various platforms.

The CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Ken Ashigbey, said there was an expanded financial inclusion through mobile money that had fast established itself as a very convenient way of sending and receiving money.

He asked the government to build a system where state agencies, as well as metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, could transact business using the various mobile money platforms.

He gave an assurance that the chamber was ready to engage with the government to make that a reality.