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95% government payments to be done electronically

Jan. 15, 2020, 3:58 p.m.

At least 95% of all government payments to people and 75% of payments by people to the government would be digitised by the end of 2020.

This will mean payment transactions by the government would be largely done via electronic means.

The move is part of the National Payment Systems Strategic Plan (2019-2024) that provides a framework for the orderly development of a national payment system that is efficient, safe, accessible and fosters innovation and electronic means of payments.

At the same time, the Bank of Ghana and the Ministry of Finance are developing a payment plan that will ensure that 90% of government benefits, including social intervention schemes such as NHIS and informal sector wages, are also paid electronically by the end of this year.

Additionally, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance will also encourage electronic payment for utilities (water and electricity). The Bank of Ghana, in this regard, will issue a directive on an incentive-pricing scheme that favours electronic payment system by the end of 2020.

The strategic initiative is to promote digital means of paying employees, promote government transactions on electronic platforms, develop and roll out a hybrid or mobile point of sale (mPOS) capability; monitor ATM switching and activity among others.

The new strategic plan builds on the 2014 Strategic Roadmap by providing a policy framework to stimulate the electronic means of payment in Ghana and encouraging shared responsibility in the implementation of the plan.

The Bank of Ghana said payment systems are undergoing significant changes driven by technological advancement and evolution of customer needs.

Electronic payment is also gradually edging out paper-based payment instruments on account of its relative efficiency.

Consumers’ demand for convenience, speed and accessibility in payments are encouraging the deployment of digital payment products.

In Ghana, mobile phone penetration has enhanced the appeal of mobile money for payment services, and holds prospects for overcoming constraints to financial inclusion.

It is, however, recognised that it requires substantial efforts for paper-based payment habits to change to the electronic ones.