Government and its stakeholders are being urged to ensure that all employees are paid electronically. This is contained in the Strategic Payments Roadmap for Ghana report.
The Report prepared by Standard Chartered Bank for the Bank of Ghana and launched this year, spells out steps that the country needs to undertake to have an effective electronic payments system and move to a cash-lite society.
One of the key recommendations of the Report, is the payment of employees by electronic means instead of the traditional cheque and cash forms of payments. According to the report, a working group should be formed to device ways of achieving this goal. The Report which recommends the setting up of a Payment Council at the apex, suggests that this working group should operate under the Council. The working group will fashion out how to implement this recommendation and achieve success.
Ahead of the implementation of the report’s recommendation, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) is already having talks with the Comptroller General’s Department to ensure that public sector workers get paid part of their salaries on the e-zwich card. This began with the payment of some staff of the Department on the biometric card and efforts are underway to extend it to include other public sector workers.
While the Report acknowledges this initiative by GhIPSS and the Comptroller General’s Department, it suggests that the forms of paying workers electronically be extended to include mobile money wallets. It further suggests that it should be possible to move money to and from a bank account to a mobile money wallet.
This level of interoperability between mobile money and bank accounts is expected to make electronic payment of salaries attractive. When such a recommendation is implemented, it will be possible for people to receive part of their salaries on either the e-zwich card, mobile money wallet or both in addition to the traditional bank account. This will create a lot of flexibility and convenience for workers as well as their employers.
In order to stimulate electronic payment of employees, the Report encourages government to take up the initiative, suggesting that such an action, as it is being been rolled out by GhIPSS and Comptroller General, will push private sector organisations to also begin paying their employees through the electronic payment system.
Analysts suggest that besides the benefit to employees as well as the drive to go cash-lite, it also has the potential to effectively eliminate ghost names.
Moves to pay employees electronically have been on the drawing board for a long time and so far just a few, mainly private sector companies that are using e-zwich and other electronic payment options to pay, largely their contract staff. Government has recently also started disbursing funds for Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) through mobile money and e-zwich.
However to encourage high patronage and compliance, the Report suggests additional ways of making electronic payment of salaries attractive. It says it should be made more expensive to receive salaries through cash or cheque compared to electronic payments. Although the Report did not mention specific ways of achieving this, it might mean, charging higher fees or commission on cheques and cash as forms of paying salaries while lower or no fees for salaries paid electronically.
Currently, GhIPSS is rolling out Point of Sales (POS) terminals with close to 200 of them active in shops, restaurants, beauty parlours, hotels and pharmacies. It is also working with banks to make existing automated teller machines (ATM) e-zwich compliant. Telcos on the other hand, are also increasing public education and outlets where people can access mobile money. All these activities mean that employees will have no challenge in spending their electronic funds, should the recommendation be implemented.
Ghana continues to lose out as a result of the cash dependent nature of its economy and trailing other Africa peers. A quick move to implement recommendations of this Strategic Payments Roadmap for Ghana report, will bring immense benefit to the economy, analysts have argued.