Single scan & pay banking platform in the offing

Mr. Archie Hesse, CEO, GhIPSS

The most revolutionary digital payments platform in Ghana for merchant payments – scan and pay – will undergo a major transformation before the end of this year, as the Ghana Inter-bank Payments and Settlements Systems (GhIPSS) is preparing to launch its own platform.

This will serve as a single platform which will replace the multiple platforms currently offered by a handful of the leading banks in the country with regards to digital payments facilitation.

GhIPSS impending single platform has the potential to make it both cheaper and more convenient for merchant outlets using scan and pay technology to consummate payments for the goods and services they offer.

Thus it will make the platform – already proving to be revolutionary in that it enables digital payments acceptable to even micro-sized merchants such as road-side traders – even cheaper and easier to use, conceivably allowing it to replace most cash based merchant sales in Ghana.

Scan and pay is an IT driven payments platform which allows customer to make payments at a merchant’s outlet, such as a store, or even a kiosk or road side table top, by simply scanning a QR code using a smart phone. This is particularly ideal for hitherto un-banked merchants who sell low priced items, since it does not require a point of sale (POS) device, the cost of which has prevented most small scale merchants from accepting digital payments in the past.

Instructively, even some roasted plantain sellers now accept payments from customers using scan and pay since the only cost incurred is that of the photocopied QR code print outs required for the process, which is almost insignificantly low.

Scan and pay was pioneered in Ghana by Ecobank which still provides the technological platform for many of its competitor banks. However a couple of equally technologically savvy banks, such as Zenith Bank have since established their own scan and pay platforms.

But with the impending establishment of a single platform for all banks by GhIPSS, merchants will no longer have to deal with several different banks as the facilitator of a particular transaction or custodians of the actual monies behind the digital payments; each merchant will be able to simply stick with one bank as the banker to the merchant enterprise.

While this will make scan and pay more convenient for the merchant, economies of scale will reduce the transaction cost to the merchant even further. Between these two advantages, scan and pay will expectedly become attractive to even hose merchants still holding out currently.

GhIPSS is currently engaging the banks that have their own scan and pay platforms, who understandably will not be pleased with the impending development.  However, GhIPSS officials argue that those banks have already recouped much if not all of their investment in the technology requisite for owning a scan and pay platform; and even after the change to a single platform those banks will still have the biggest market shares going forward.

GhIPSS officials privately also argue that the banks who set up their own platforms should have known that eventually they would be succeeded by a single platform. They think that the banks would have done better by collaborating with the electronic payments platforms developer in the first place.

However those banks are unlikely to take the impending development without resistance.

By Toma Imirhe