The Ghana Interbank Payment & Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has released a report on how the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected global commerce and payments behaviour indicating that the value of digital transactions increased to GH¢254 billion to close the year 2020 from GH¢219 billion recorded in 2019.
This represents an upsurge of approximately 16 percent year-on-year and suggests a gradual move towards a cashless society.
In terms of volume of transactions processed across all digital platforms, the Ghana Interbank Payment & Settlement Systems revealed that by end of 2020 digital transactions processed hovered around 77 million as against 38 million processed in 2019.
Therefore, volume of digital dealings undertaken within the year doubled inching up about 103 percent from the period 2019 to 2020 showing a remarkable increase cashless adoption rates, with businesses increasingly reliant upon contactless and online payments and consumers utilizing those alternatives.
Highlighting, the various digital transactions undertaken, the GhIPSS product performance report disclosed that electronic clearing of cheques, Automated Clearing House (ACH), e-zwich and gh-link witnessed varying levels of increase in transaction volumes.
The report further hinted that one significant contributing factor to the digital drive is the Mobile Money Interoperability, processing a total of 43.9 million transactions, representing a whopping 367% increase compared to 9 million transactions processed in 2019.
Giving further insights, the report also showed that the GhIPSS Instant Pay (GIP) platform equally recorded significant growth in both interbank account transfers across various banks as well as from bank accounts to mobile wallets.
“At the end of 2020, GIP transactions increased by 257% from 1.9 million in 2019 to 6.8 million. GhIPSS also recorded introductory transactions from new services such as Proxy Pay and GhQR code”.
The Chief Executive Officer of GhIPSS, Archie Hesse intimated that the coronavirus pandemic has necessitated the increasing availability and usage of online and contactless payments. Also, this is gradually contributing to the decrease in cash usage over the last year.
“The upsurge in the use of these real-time services was largely influenced by COVID-19 related factors such as: the 3 weeks lockdown which restricted the physical movements of people, public awareness through extensive education discouraging the handling of physical cash and encouraging the use of electronic alternatives and the incentivization from the financial services industry with fee waivers on their services”.
Touching on clearing house or bulk payment systems, the report indicates that the clearing house processed quite huge volume of instruments, recording a 0.10 percent increase and as such bringing the total volume of cheque transactions processed in 2020 to 14.9 million.
Additionally, Transaction value for clearing houses also witnessed some improvements recording a 9.6% increase from GH¢ 209 billion in 2019 to GH¢ 229 billion.
The report however alerted that Corporate bodies which are the primary users of Cheques and ACH were unable to operate during the 3 weeks partial lockdown impacting the performance of such clearing houses.
Finally, the Ghana Interbank Payment & Settlement Systems have cautioned that sectors including manufacturing, hospitality, travel and education have not been able to return to normal operations or pre-pandemic levels affecting economic activity adversely.