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Securing single payment platform for Africa: No financial institution will be left behind - BoG affirms

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Archie Hesse — CEO, GhIPSS
Archie Hesse — CEO, GhIPSS

The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS) is at an advanced stage of linking its platform to the Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS)\.

The move seeks to create a single payment platform for the continent.

With the continent grappling with the introduction of a single currency for almost 30 years, the Afrexim Bank with support from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat recently introduced PAPSS which is expected to guarantee instant payment of goods and services between African jurisdictions in any local currency.

Speaking at a summit organised by the Bank of Ghana and its partners, the Head of Payment Systems at BoG, Dr Settor Amediku, said the central bank would ensure that all financial institutions were onboarded to PAPSS, noting that no institution would be left behind.

He said the financial institutions would be able to do this through the GhIPPS platform after it was successfully linked to PAPSS.

“PAPSS will work with all regulated payment institutions in every African country. For example, in the case of Ghana, all our banks are going to be linked to the PAPSS infrastructure through GhIPSS.

“We have licensed fintechs, we have savings and loans companies, and we have other payment companies that are already linked with GhIPSS,” he stated.

Custodians of system

Dr Amediku noted that although Afreximbank developed the infrastructure, the participating central banks were the custodians of the payment system and remained responsible for the day-to-day running of PAPSS in accordance with its mandate.

“Afreximbank is only providing the infrastructure. It is our duty to ensure that payment and settlement systems support the economy of our respective countries.

“So there should be no fears that Afreximbank will dictate to us how our payment systems should be run, because this is the constitutional mandate of the member central banks,” he noted.

Support for PAPSS

The Second Deputy Governor of the BoG, Elsie Addo Awadzi, in her keynote address, said the central bank was committed to support PAPSS.

She said the system was a major step in unleashing the continent’s trade and investment opportunities.

As a member of the Governing Council of PAPSS, she said the BoG had offered maximum support to the testing and pilot phases of the systems.

She said the central bank would continue to promote a modern, innovative, resilient and inclusive payment system in the country to help boost commerce and access to financial services.

She noted that the introduction of the e-cedi which was backed by the BoG’s balance sheet, would serve as a critical tool in driving an inclusive and formalised economy.

More clarity

The Chief Financial Officer at Fidelity Bank, Attah Yeboah-Gyan, also speaking at the event, said there was the need to clearly define and clarify the core function of PAPSS.

He explained that the system would only address issues around the delays associated with transactions, cost of payment as well as the demand for forex which characterises many countries on the continent.

He emphasised that PAPSS was no substitute for or direct remedy to problems of infrastructure, political stability, or diversity of goods and services.

“PAPSS in itself will not drive trade volumes, and that must be made clear. Trade volumes are low because we do not have economies that are diversified enough, coupled with other infrastructure, social and political factors,” he stated.

He said the cost and time benefits of PAPSS might lead sovereign states to see the usefulness of a single currency and make them work faster toward the required convergence criteria.