The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GHIPSS), Archie Hesse has disclosed that the company took a loan of 4.5 million dollars from the Bank of Ghana to implement the mobile money interoperability project.
According to him, the BoG gave the funds to the GHIPSS with the expectation that the company will meet some benchmarks in the next five years to enable them to pay back the loan.
The clarification comes after calls on GHIPSS to disclose how much the project will cost ordinary Ghanaians.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr Hesse stated that there is a practical plan to refinance the loan.
“I know there has been a lot of a talk about the cost of the mobile money interoperability project but the Central Bank owns it 100%, and we have a range of deliverables to meet which includes mobile money. As a result, we spoke to our parent company the Central Bank, and they gave a loan of 4.5 million to solve up the capability of our system to meet this particular demand,” he said.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia launched the first phase of the mobile money interoperability system on May 10.
The mobile money interoperability system, which will be managed by GHIPSS, will enhance financial inclusion as the country’s payment system is formalised to make electronic payments easier.
The phase one of the interoperability will also allow mobile customers to move money from their mobile money accounts to bank accounts and vice versa.
Speaking at the launch of the platform, Dr Bawumia said the mobile revolution had presented a significant opportunity for financial inclusion to rope in the 70 percent of the bankable population.
“Today, we have more than 37 million connected mobile phones in Ghana, and that means a huge number of people can be brought into the financial space just by using mobile phones. These mobile phones serve as vehicles that can be used to mobilise the millions of cedis held outside the banking sector,” he said.
Initial ‘killer’ deal
In January 2017, the issue of mobile money interoperability came to the fore when telecom operators kicked against moves by the central bank to impose a third-party company to implement the interoperability.
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) is said to have contracted Sibton Switch Systems to act as the switch for the cross-network mobile money transactions, with additional cost implications for both consumers and the telcos.
Sibton Switch Systems, the company, given the contract by the Bank of Ghana, justified the GHc 4.6 billion cost of the project.
It was discovered that the company’s GHc 4.6 billion price tag was the most expensive among the companies that bid for the project.
According to the tender documents seen by Citi News while the Sibton Switch Systems’ bid for amounted to GHc 4.6 billion, two offers in the contract totalled to GHc 14 million and GHc 5.4 million from Vals Intel Limited and Mericom Solutions Limited respectively.
The Vice President Bawumia later disclosed that the new interoperability system would cost the country less than $4 million after the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems took charge of the project.
The company was given a GHc 4.6 billion contract for a project.